Very shamefully, Nigeria has deteriorated to the disgraceful level of selling or trading the nation’s currency for not just a pay but for an exorbitant billing following the wide spread crises and frustrations caused by the current cash swap currently going on the country.
Recall that, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, while announcing the redesigning of naira, said: “Ladies and gentlemen, available data at the Central Bank of Nigeria has shown that in 2015, currency in circulation was only N1.4 trillion.”
“As of October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion; out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry and N2.7 trillion held permanently in people’s homes.”
“Ordinarily, when CBN releases currency into circulation, it is meant to be used and after effluxion of time, it returns to the CBN thereby keeping the volume of currency in circulation under the firm control of the CBN.”
“So far and since the commencement of this program, we have collected about N1.9 trillion; leaving us with about N900 billion (N500 billion + N1.9 billion),” he said.
Emefiele also added that the initiative has recorded over 75% success rate, out of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system. “Nigerians in the rural areas, villages, the aged and vulnerable have had the opportunity to swap their old notes; leveraging the Agen Naira Swap initiative as well as the CBN Senior staff nationwide sensitization team exercise,” he noted.
Probably, having observed the unbearable crises caused by this development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reversed itself and directed banks to commence paying customers new Naira notes Over The Counter (OTC).
The apex bank said the order was to reduce queues around Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country.
CBN Governor Godiwn Emefiele gave the directive in Abuja on Thursday.
A statement from CBN’s Director Corporate Communication Osita Nwanisobi, explained banks can only pay N20, 000 of the new notes over the counter per day to individuals.
The statement reads: “The Govenor, Mr. 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”.
To ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced naira banknotes, the CBN urged Nigerians “to exercise patience as the CBN is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs”.
The CBN spokesman appealed to Nigerians “to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.
“There are moves now by the CBN and security agencies to go after party goers who abuse the Naira. In the same statement, Nwanisiobi said “it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever” describing those engaging in these practices as “unpatriotic persons”.
The CBN particularly frowned at those “who sell the newly redesigned banknotes and those who flagrantly abuse the legal tender by hurling wads of Naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions”.
To stop this practice, Nwanisiobi said “the 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”.
He warned 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”.
According to him, “the Naira is our legal tender and symbol of national pride. Therefore, let us respect it and handle it with care”.
For emphasis, Nwanisiobi drew party goers’ attention to “section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (As amended) which 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.”
Also, 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.”