By Tony Obiechina
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed its readiness to engage law enforcement agencies to track down and prosecute persons who hoard or hawk Naira notes.
This is even as the Apex Bank has concluded arrangements to flood the markets with N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5 notes in order to arrest the current scarcity of the lower denominations.
CBN Director of Currency Operations Department, Mrs. Priscilla Eleje, who unfolded the bank’s plans while addressing traders during a sensitization exercise at Wuse Market in Abuja, recently, warned that it would no longer tolerate such unwholesome acts.
She also warned those who hoard the lower denomination Naira notes for the purpose of profiteering from the resale to jettison the idea as they risk prosecution when caught.
Her words, “we spend money to print money every year, but we don’t see the money in the market. So, we called the market unions and banks to a meeting in our office on how to resolve that. We are here to inform you that we have started giving money to you traders via your association and the banks. We will monitor the disbursements and spending. No more sales of lower denomination currency at Dei Dei as the Police are on the lookout and will arrest and prosecute offenders”.
The Apex bank director advised the traders to take their higher denomination currencies to their associations and exchange them with lower denomination currency equivalent, as this enable them do their business with ease.
“Counterfeit money is an economic loss. Don’t collect it and don’t spend it. The loss is on you. That’s the law. However, we’ve machines with special in-built features to detect fake or counterfeited currencies. It’s a big crime and we are dealing with it. The banks have been directed to return the counterfeited currency to us so that we study it to see the security features that are being counterfeited”, she added.
In his response, the Chairman of the Wuse Market Association, Raphael Okorie, commended CBN for making plans to ensure availability of lower currency denominations.
He said it was the first time in history that the Apex Bank would be coming to personally interact directly with traders adding that “in a short time, all the issues raised will be tackled by the CBN.”