Nigeria’s central bank said on Monday it will suspend cheque clearing temporarily, as the country begins coronavirus lockdowns in Abuja and Lagos.
“In furtherance to the Bank’s efforts to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the Central Bank of Nigeria hereby suspends, until further notice, the clearing of cheque instruments in the Nigerian Clearing System starting from March 31, 2020,” the bank said in a circular.
The capital city and the commercial capital begin the lockdown at 11 pm local time on Monday, although the Finance Ministry said it would keep a “skeletal staff” to ensure online transactions and ATMs continued to work.
While use of cheques has been declining in Nigeria, the country processed 9.02 million cheques in 2018 worth a combined 5 trillion naira ($14 billion), according to the Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement System, more than half of them by corporate parties. ($1 = 360.0000 naira) (Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Hugh Lawson)