The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday expressed concerns over the lingering queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country, and cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them.
While reiterating its commitment to ensuring the effective distribution of the newly introduced Naira banknotes, the CBN urged Nigerians to exercise patience while it is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Meanwhile, the apex bank announced in the statement by Osita Nwanisobi, its Director, Corporate Communications, a directive by its governor, Godwin Emefiele, that deposit money banks (DMBs) should commence payment of the redesigned Naira notes over the counter, subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000 per customer.
The statement also admonished Nigerians to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions, observing with grave concern activities of those selling the newly redesigned banknotes, thereby flagrantly abusing the currency at social functions.
Consequently, he said the CBN is collaborating with the Nigeria Police, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to address the unpatriotic practice.
The apex bank therefore warned Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.
The statement equally expressed worry over “reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.
For the avoidance of doubt, he said, Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria 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.”
Similarly, Nwasinobi continued, 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.”