Currency peddlers as well as those who spray the naira at parties now face certain jail time as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with the Nigerian police and the judiciary have commenced the arrest and trial of offenders.
The CBN at the last Bankers’ Committee meeting in Lagos announced that it would soon commence the arrest and prosecution of individuals who hawk or mutilate the naira. Director Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Isaac Okorafor, appealed to Nigerians to desist from abusing the naira, because those caught could go to jail.
Speaking during the CBN Day at the just concluded Lagos International Trade Fair at the weekend, Okorafor said the apex bank in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, has recorded first conviction of someone who abused the naira in Ibadan.
He said a naira note vendor, Mrs Anifat Abiodun, is being remanded in Agodi Prison in Ibadan, after she was arraigned by men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) Oyo state command before a Federal High Court on a two count charge of tampering and trading in currency, hawking and selling of currency notes.
Noting that the arrest had been a joint efforts between the NSCDC and CBN officials, Okorafor said, “We are collaborating with the police because it is their duty to enforce the law and we are also talking with the judiciary to ensure that we provide mobile courts and judges are designated.”
Okorafor had attributed the scarcity of the N100 notes to the currency peddlers and those who spray it at parties saying “it is the note being used most at parties and then they mutilate theses notes. So even if we print it on Friday, it gets to the party and by Monday the note is already mutilated.”
Meanwhile, he urged members of the public who have fallen victims of exorbitant bank charges to report such infractions to the apex bank. “If you feel aggrieved that an ATM is extorting you, if it happens, take out time to go to your bank to protest. And if they deny, do it in writing after you get their response and whether they respond or not, just bring it to us through an email and we will take note of it.
“If consumers of financial services do not themselves stand up to insist on their rights, CBN will not be in any banking hall trying to protect you. So please find time to report any wrong doing by the banks.” He however explained that banks that provide convenience have had various levels of investments which customers need to pay for but not above the required pegged rate.
“Banking services are not free anywhere in the world. If you can stay in your bedroom to make a transfer in the comfort of your bedroom, someone is paying for it and it is not government subsidy. People have invested in the bank, switching and in all the systems and those investments, people have made and they wait to reap from it. But what the CBN would not do is to allow your banks to reap you off.”