Nigerians who sell new naira notes or spray cash at parties will now be tried at mobile courts and sent to six months jail as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mulls increasing the number of items on the not eligible for foreign exchange.
Rising from the Bankers Committee meeting yesterday, the apex bank said as more funds are allocated to agriculture and manufacturing sectors of the economy, it will consider restricting foreign exchange allocation to certain items.
Speaking at a briefing following the meeting in Lagos yesterday, managing director and chief executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe noted that the Bankers Committee which comprises of regulators and chief executives of banks resolved that the “discretionary cash reserve that has been built up over time be channeled towards agric in a very impactful manner and apart from agric most of the money should also be channeled towards manufacturing sector.
“The idea as well was that as things are being done in the way it is being pursued, very soon or in the future, the central bank will start looking at ways to reduce foreign exchange allocation to specific items because we will be producing sufficient locally to reduce import. That way the amount of pressure on our foreign reserves will have reduced.”
Managing director/chief executive of FSDH Merchant Bank, Hamda Ambah, noted that the apex bank will be issuing circulars taking drastic steps against mishandling of naira notes in the country.
According to her, the apex bank will be introducing mobile courts to try and sentence those found guilty of hawking mint notes, spraying or mishandling naira notes.
Emphasising that with financial inclusion comes responsibilities, she said it is important for Nigerians to handle the naira note in the right manner so as not to be caught on the wrong side of law.
Director, corporate communications, CBN, Issac Okoroafor on his part noted that “the CBN Act 2007 outlaws any action by anybody either by selling, spraying, squeezing or dancing
upon it or hawking it. That Act makes it an offence punishable by six months imprisonment or fine of N50,000 or both imprisonment and fine.
“So if at a party somebody dances on the naira or sprays it, that person automatically and instantly may go to jail from that party. So Nigerians should bear that in mind and the CBN is working vigorously on this course.”
He noted further that the apex bank is collaborating with various law enforcement agencies including the police and the judiciary across all parts of the country to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.
On his part, a CBN director, Ahmed Abdullahi noted that while the normanlisation of rates by the United States Federal Reserves is taking its toll on emerging markets, the impact has not been much on Nigeria. According to him, this is due to the confidence investors have the Nigerian economy.
The confidence he said is based on the stability in the country’s foreign exchange market and rising oil prices. He noted that the Bankers Committee however recognises the fact that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the economic growth that the nation is recording does not reverse.