The Central Bank of Nigeria has warned that abusers of naira notes will be prosecuted by the financial regulator in collaboration with other regulatory bodies such as the Nigeria Police, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
The warning, according to the CBN, was necessitated by the activities of some people who flagrantly abuse the legal tender at social functions.
According to the apex bank, mishandling, defacing and hawking naira notes at social events is in violation of the Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (As amended).
The bank disclosed this is a statement on Tuesday by the Acting Director, Corporate Communication, Osita Nwanisobi.
It reads in part, “The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has again been drawn to the activities of persons, who flagrantly abuse the legal tender by hurling wads of Naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions.
“There have also been cases where people mishandle the Naira, deface it, hawk the currency at parties and reject the currency in some instances.
“It should be stated that, contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is neither cultural nor moral, for people to disrespect the currency which citizens trade in.
“For the avoidance of doubt, 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’
“Accordingly, the Central Bank of Nigeria (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 CBN in the statement 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 Naira is our legal tender and symbol of national pride. Let us respect it and handle it with care,” the statement added.
Mixed reactions had trailed the failure of security agencies to enforce the country’s anti-spraying law and prosecute Naira abusers, especially at the recent lavish funeral of the mother of the Chairman of Cubana Group, Obi Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana.
This is just as Nigerians said security agencies were responsible for the arrest and the prosecution of Naira abusers.
According to Section 21 of the CBN Act, 2007, a person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the apex bank risks imprisonment for a term not less than six months or a fine not less than N50,000 or to both.
For days, Obi Cubana was a social media sensation and the rave of the moment, especially with the ‘naira rain’ at the event in Oba, a town in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Several videos went viral that show celebrities, businesspeople and politicians spray money indiscriminately during a concert held after the interment of the deceased.
In one of the videos, Obi Cubana was seen displaying his football skills while one of the personalities threw wad of cash at him. The 46-year-old literally turned bales of naira to round leather as he kicked and chested it.
Veteran actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo, amongst scores of celebrities was also seen spraying mint notes on Obi Cubana who relished the tuneful rhythm seeping from the background.
The ostentatious display of wealth by those who graced the event has dominated social discourse since July 15, 2021 when the funeral started with a service of songs and Christian wake, followed by the burial and reception the next day at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Oba Anambra.
The chain of events ended with a thanksgiving service on Sunday, July 18, 2021 at the Good Shepherd Anglican Church, also in Oba.