The Central Bank of Nigeria, in a process of tackling the acute shortage of lower denomination currencies, on Tuesday commenced an exercise aimed at flooding the market with N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5 notes.
The apex bank, however, warned against hoarding and cloning of the lower currency notes and also promised punishment on anyone caught in the act.
Speaking at a sensitisation programme at the Wuse Market in Abuja, the Director, Currency Operations, CBN, Mrs. Priscilla Eleje, said the apex bank was unhappy that lower denomination naira were scare in circulation.
She stated that the bank was mindful of the development and had decided to address the challenge, starting with traders.
She also warned those who were hoarding the lower denomination naira notes for the purpose of profiting from their resale to stop the idea as they risked prosecution when caught.
Eleje said, “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 currencies at Dei Dei (a suburb in Abuja popular for the sale of new naira notes). The Police are on the lookout and will arrest and prosecute offenders. We will give the money to the association via the commercial banks.”
She added, “All you need to do is to take your higher denomination currencies to your association and exchange with lower denomination currency equivalents.
“It’s not like the money is free. It’s just an exchange and we want it to be available to you people to do your business with ease. So, please let us know if you can’t access it. We want to ensure you trade seamlessly.”
On counterfeiting of the naira, Eleje described it as a complete economic loss that the CBN was working with the security agencies to address.
She said, “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 have 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 currencies to us so that we study them to see the security features that are being counterfeited. So, we try to know which features are probably vulnerable and we improve on those going forward.
“We have reports of banks issuing counterfeit money. We are also monitoring banks issuing currencies that are mutilated. Report such banks to the CBN and you will get a redress.”