By Racheal Isahya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that hawking, mutilation and spraying of naira notes at parties constitute an affront to the nation.
CBN’s acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, called on Nigerians to treat the naira with respect.
He said that under no circumstance should the naira be squeezed or reduced to a piece of paper for writing or jotting.
Okoroafor said that the naira had value and should be treated with respect because it was a symbol of national sovereignty.
“It is unfortunate that Nigerians do not take pride in symbols of our national sovereignty. The naira is a symbol of our National sovereignty.
“ We have embarked on sensitisation across the nation and we have gone to 28 states of the federation in the last one year trying to tell Nigerians how to identify fake Naira notes, counterfeits notes and how to handle the naira with care.
“In some cases, we have distributed wallets so that people can put in their money neatly. For us, it is so frustrating that not many Nigerians are listening to it.
“We spend a lot of money printing these bank notes and we print a bank note, release a bank note on a Friday, people go to parties they dance on them.
“They go to churches and mosque, they squeeze it and put for offering and by Monday it is already old and mutilated and we spend hundreds of billions of Naira to print these notes. It is so unfortunate,’’ he said.
Okorafor said the CBN, using “Clean Naira Policy’’ campaign, would continue to sensitise the people to stop squeezing the Naira and using it as a piece of paper to write things.
On hawking and sale of newly printed Naira notes popular known as “mints’’, Okorafor said that the apex bank was working in collaboration with the police to stop the illegal practice.
Section 20 and 21 of the CBN Act stated that whoever sells, buys, sprays and squeeze the naira will be imprisoned for six months or given an option of N50,000 fine or both.
Okorafor said that the police had earlier carried out raids in Abuja and Lagos and people were arrested and some of the monies confiscated.
“On our side internally, we have made it clear to all that any CBN staff that is found complicit in any of this act, will be summarily dismissed. That is our position,’’ he said.
The CBN spokesman also gave reasons why there were too many mutilated naira notes in circulation, especially the N5, N10, N20, N50 and N100.
“The first one is that people handle these notes so badly and so within a short while they don’t get to their lifespan anymore and for the lower denomination notes, they have a higher velocity of circulation.
“What that means is that if used more often and as you use it in exchange, it gets worn out, it gets torn more frequently. So that also creates another problem.
“Another factor is that banks, which have the duty to bring back to us mutilated notes, do not do their jobs well.
“Banks are supposed to sort the notes into unfit notes and then when they are bringing the notes back to us, they bring those ones that they have been sorted and brought out as unfit and worn out.
“But they do not do that. And what we do, if they bring it back to us like that, we do the sorting and charge them because it is a job they have failed to do.
“But then what we have discovered is that banks instead of bring these notes like that and we sorting them and charge them, they will re-circulate it,’’ he said.
Okorafor said that the apex bank would soon release new regulations concerning the role of banks in taking mutilated notes out of circulation.
He added that the bank planned to print more notes especially the lower denominations to ease pressure on naira notes already in circulation.