The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed commercial banks to start paying the new naira notes to customers over-the-counter in the banking halls.
Accordingto a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday by the bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi revealed that the apex bank assured Nigerians that the queues at Automated Teller Machine stands will end soon while directing banks to pay new notes over the counter, which was previously banned.
“We have equally noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines 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.
In the statement, the CBN expressed concerns over the selling of the new notes, adding that it would work with security agencies to address the issue.
The statement read in part, “The Central Bank of Nigeria has observed, with grave concern, the activities of persons 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.”
“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,” the bank said
It noted that Section 21(3) of the CBN 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.”
It added that 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 bank said it is partnering with the Nigeria Police, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to address the issue of the sale and abuse of new notes in the country.