By Kayode Tokede and Olabode Jegede
Last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the arresting and prosecuting of those who spray Naira notes at social events and planning to deploy mobile courts nationwide to try those mishandling the country’s treasury.
The call by the apex bank is in line with CBN Act of 2007 that stands to imprison and punish those tampering with or trading in note or coin issued by the Bank.
The Director, Communications Department of the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafo, said the police and the Ministry of Justice would be involved in the operation.
According him, “If a celebrant is dancing and you spray him/her, you may go to jail from the party venue because the law enforcement agents will be there, waiting to arrest you.
“It is the duty of law enforcement agencies to catch offenders and take them to court. Our collaboration with the police will intensify as we move to implement the mobile court for offenders.”
Admonishing Nigerians on how to use cash as gift, he said, “If you want to give, put the money in an envelope, and give it the celebrant. Let’s know that anybody hawking and writing on the naira will face six months in jail or N50,000 or both.”
A survey conducted by Nigerian NewsDirect in Sango, Ogun state revealed five out of 20 were aware on the plenty that await spraying of Naira at social events.
The move by CBN, according to what our correspondent gathered is to reduce dirty Naira note in circulation and preserve the naira.
Naira notes are issued to deposit money banks through the branches of the CBN, and old notes retrieved through the same channel. Currency deposited in the CBN by the banks are processed and sorted to fit and unfit notes in line with the clean note policy. The clean notes are re-issued while the dirty notes are destroyed.
The apex bank in 2002 introduced the cashless policy to eliminate the amount of physical cash (coins and notes) circulating in the economy, and encouraging more electronic-based transactions (payments for goods, services, transfers, among others).
Currency in circulation
However, findings by our correspondent revealed that currency in circulation as at the end of August, dropped to N1.83 trillion compared with the N1.9 trillion pose in the previous month, a reduction by N75 billion as revealed by data gathered from the CBN money and credit statistics for August 2018, obtained from its website.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that currency in circulation dropped by five per cent to N1.83 trillion, the lowest so far this year.
The currency in circulation, which is the physical money used for transactions between consumers and businesses, had opened 2018 at N1.95 trillion and closed in February at N1.94 trillion.
As stated by the CBN Acts of 2007 Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 Section (21) on Tampering With or trading in currency, passed by the National Assembly stated that “A person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the Bank is guilty of an offence and shall on notes and coins imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment.
“(2) A coin or note shall be deemed to have been tampered with if the coin or note has been impaired, diminished or lightened otherwise than by fair wear and tear or has been defaced by stumping, engraving, mutilating, piercing, stapling, writing, tearing, soiling, squeezing or any other form of deliberate and willful abuse whether the coin or note has or has not been thereby diminished or lightened.
“(3) For the avoidance of doubt, 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
“Sub-section (1) of this section. (4) 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.
“(5) In this section—— (i) “Matching” includes spreading scattering or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent.; (ii) “Spraying” includes adorning, decorating or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of the Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.”
Better late than never
Over the year, top Nigerians have been seen at social media spreading money at high expensive social events. Stakeholders have questioned the existence of CBN Act of 2007 that imposed sanctions on Naira abuse.
A source in CBN said, the banker committee are now taking it serious this time, stressing that some key event centers are to be raided by CBN team and security agencies.
The source noted that “CBN team visited Abuja with SSS and civil servant. They have been to Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta and this morning (Saturday) they were in Akure to raid spots where mint naira are sold.
“The CBN has enforced and let for the security agencies act and prosecute those arrested.
“Now that the bankers committee has shown interest, any staff of banks caught, will be handed over to the police for further investigation.”
Speaking from a judiciary perspective
Speaking with Nigerian NewsDirect, Barrister Malachy Ugwummadu, “Well, it mainly emphasis and re-enforcing the fact that what is happening is not the absence of law but the absence of implementation of this law.
“Do not forget that the currency carries on them security features including the photographs of our founding fathers and distinguished members of our country who has made serious impact in the affairs of this country.
“Having said that, the issue is that anybody who defaces or deliberately mishandle the currency, it becomes an offense. Yet, all of these things have not been enforced because the people of this country are dealing with more fundamental issues of existence.
He explained further that, “What I am saying is that the law is good but the implementation is the problem and the fact that it has not been implemented in the past does mean it cannot be done in the present.
“I think CBN and bankers committee are awake to deal with the way and manner that our people handle the currency of this country. If you go outside the shores of this country and see the kind of premium given to their currencies, you will know that it is part of the identity of the country.
“If the CBN is able to keep through what they have started, you will see that the thing will be deterrent but above all, the hypocrisy of the government must be dealt with otherwise it will just be flash in the pan. The hypocrisy I mean is the dealing of currency even right from the CBN.”
The former second Vice President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Adekunle Ojo, said “The law is there until someone wakes it up. We have enough law in this country that covers all sectors. According to the CBN act of 2007, there is enough law, waiting to be enforced to solve some of the crisis facing this nation. We do not have institutional capacity to enforce otherwise, why is our money be spray at social events.”