The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday vowed to arrest people selling the newly redesigned banknotes and those who flagrantly abuse the notes at social functions across the country.
The apex bank said it will partner with security agencies to ensure that erring members of the public who abuse the new notes are arrested and duly punished in accordance with extant laws.
The CBN’s intervention comes after multiple video clips of people “spraying” the notes at social functions surfaced on social media platforms.
Since the apex bank introduced the new notes, there have been large crowds and long queues at cash points and banking halls across the country as Nigerians scramble to get the new notes.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, on Thursday, the apex bank described as “worrisome” 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,” it said.
The statement noted that 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,” the statement said.
“Accordingly, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is 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 the unpatriotic practice.
“We, therefore, warn Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.”
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While reiterating its commitment to ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced banknotes, the CBN called for patience as it seeks to address the challenge of queues at ATMs.
“The Naira is our legal tender and symbol of national pride. Therefore, let us respect it and handle it with care,” the statement said.
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