The fight against trading in mint currency and abuse of the naira at events has gained prominence, as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Bankers Committee has mulled a mobile court to try offenders.
The advanced move, in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Ministry of Justice, is aimed at reducing the huge costs incurred yearly from minting and replacement of bad notes.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Mrs. Hamda Ambah, told newsmen yesterday in Lagos that they were putting everyone on notice to modify behaviours and avoid the wrath of the law.
“We will increase awareness on the handling of the currency.
We will not want anyone to be caught on the wrong side of the law.
Whether the court begins tomorrow or next year, the most important thing is for you to desist from trading in naira and abusing it,” she said.
A top source at the apex bank had disclosed that part of the measures were top direct disbursements to some associations and establishments through the financial institutions with unique numbers recipients for early detection of misuse.
CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, noted that the law had been existing, but only needed to be enforced fully with the police and other inter-governmental agencies mobilised.
He said: “I also remind you that it is a criminal offence to abuse the naira, which is punishable under the CBN Act 2007 by six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both when convicted of the sale, spraying or mutilation of the banknotes.
“CBN is spearheading this enforcement because it is costing the government a fortune to print the currencies. If this is a cultural thing, it should be stopped. If it is a behavioural thing, it should be changed.”
The Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said the committee was concerned about making a lasting impact in the real sector to support growth in the economy.
According to him, the bankers have agreed to apply the built up discretionary reserves to agricultural activities in a very impactful manner.
He said banks, as corporate citizens of this country, have interest in achieving the goals of import substitution, especially with basic agricultural goods as well as supporting manufacturing to the extent of minimising the volume of imported manufactured items.