By Bassey Udo
To remove all bottlenecks affecting the smooth distribution of the redesigned banknotes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has moved to halt the illegal activities of all abusers of the Naira.
The spokesperson of the apex bank, Osita Nwanisobi, said the management of the financial sector regulator has observed with grave concern the activities of persons who sell the newly redesigned banknotes.
He also condemned those who flagrantly abuse the legal tender by hurling wads of Naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions.
We have equally noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an rising trend in the cases of people stocking up and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them.
Also worrisome, he said, were the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.
“We wish to state unequivocally that, contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act
2007 (As amended) stipulates that “spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under the law by fines or imprisonment or both.”
Similarly, Section 21(4) states that “It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank.”
Accordingly, he said the CBN was collaborating with the Nigeria Police, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to address these unpatriotic practices.
Nwanisobi said the CBN has equally noticed the long queues outside bankd at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
He said in line with this resolve, the CBN Govenor, Godwin Emefiele, has directed deposit money banks (DMBs) to commence the payment of the redesigned Naira notes over the counter, subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.
“We also admonish members of the public to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.The Naira is our legal tender and symbol of national pride. Therefore, let us
respect it and handle it with care.” Nwanisobi said.