The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday blamed commercial banks in the country for sabotaging its efforts at replacing mutilated notes with new ones.
Mr. Isaac Okorafor, Acting Director, Communications Department of CBN, made the allegation in Lagos on Thursday, while reacting to lamentations of Nigerians on the preponderance of dirty and mutilated notes in the country, said the apex bank was aware of the development and had taken several measures to address it.
According to him, one of the steps taken by CBN in mopping up the mutilated notes from the system was reduction in the amount it charges banks for sorting the dirty notes for clean ones from N12,000 to N1,000 per box.
Okorafor said the reduction in charges for the commercial banks, which lasted for three months from January 2 to March 28 was to encourage them to return more dirty notes to CBN.
He said the sorting charges, which used to be N12,000 was later reduced to N2,000 per box after the March 28 deadline when the window was closed.
The CBN director said the opportunity was limited to lower denomination naira notes comprising N50, N20 and N10 notes.
Nigerians have been decrying the large scale circulation of dirty and mutilated notes, mainly in the smaller denominations of N5, N10, N20, N50 and N100 notes.
He hinted that the bank had adopted another strategy of withdrawing the unfit notes from circulation rather than depending mainly on the commercial banks on the task in view of their poor response.
Okorafor added that the CBN had started engaging associations in various markets to encourage traders to change genuine dirty notes for new ones. This, he said, would not attract any cost to traders.
“The bank has already taken the new measure to Kano, Kaduna and Abuja and also intends to bring it to the South soon,” he said.
On hoarding and selling of new currency notes, Okorafor said the serial numbers of the mint ones given out to the public would be used to track whosoever perpetuates such act. He, however, appealed to Nigerians to handle the national currency with care as it is a symbol of identity and value which should be handled with respect.
Okorafor urged the public to always demand for new notes instead of collecting dirty notes from banks.