The apex bank said this in a circular released on Monday to all Deposit Money Banks and the Nigeria InterBank Settlement System.
The circular with reference number BKS/DIR/GEN/ClR/O7/002 was signed by the CBN Director, Banking Services Department, Sam Okojere.
The apex bank said in the circular that the directive became imperative due to the lockdown issued by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd) in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory.
The lockdown was to check the increase in the number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The apex bank said in view of the lockdown and in furtherance of its effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, there is need to suspend the clearing of cheques instruments.
The circular said the suspension would commence from March 31, adding that no fresh cheque instrument will be allowed to pass through the clearing system on that date.
It said only returned cheque would be treated on March 31.
The circular reads in part, “Please recall that the first index case of COVlD-19 was recorded in Nigeria on 27th February, 2020 and since that date, there has been some level of increase in the number of confirmed cases in the country.
“The President, through a nationwide broadcast yesterday, announced a locked down in Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory for two weeks in the interim, starting from 11:00 pm. of March 30, 2020 as a means of combating the spread of the virus and to ensure the safety of all Nigerians.
“In view of these recent developments and in furtherance to the Bank’s effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the Central Bank of Nigeria hereby suspend, until further notice, the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian Clearing System starting from March 31, 2020.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument will be allowed to pass through clearing system on March 31, 2020. Only returned cheque would be treated on the said date.”
The circular, however, said that settlement activities for electronic instruments would continue to hold during this period of suspension.