The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday directed commercial banks to start paying the redesigned naira notes to customers over the counter.
CBN governor Godwin Emefiele announced the directive in a statement. Emefiele said the new directive was to alleviate the challenges that Nigerians are experiencing with getting access to the new notes, as well as reduce queues at the automated teller machines (ATMs) nationwide.
The CBN in a tweet assured Nigerians of the availability of the newly-designed naira notes.
While there has been an outcry over the shortage of the new notes, the apex bank says it is working with stakeholders to address the challenge.
“CBN is committed to ensuring that the new Naira notes reach the hands of Nigerians as soon as possible. In collaboration with EFCC and ICPC, CBN has been carrying out Banks’ Branch Spot-Checks on ATMs”CBN tweeted.
“We have equally noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them. Also worrisome are 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.”
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“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, 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.
“While reiterating our commitment to Nigerians to ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced Naira banknotes, we urge them to exercise patience as the CBN is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs.” the apex bank said.