NAIRA HAWKERS: Central Bank Governor, Emefiele Talks Tough, Vows To Prosecute Offenders

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It will no longer be business as usual for those hawking the Nigerian currency, naira, at occasions as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has vowed to go after offenders henceforth, warning that its a criminal offence.

Making the vow while speaking on a topic “Promoting Financial Stability and Economic Development”, Tuesday at an event put together by the apex bank, at the Hampton Hotel, Okpanam road, a suburb of Asaba, Delta State capital, CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, represented by the bank’s Ag Director Corporate Communication, Mr Okorafor Isaac, said that the bank has shown commitment at discouraging people from hawking the naira.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria is very commitment to making sure that people do not hawk the naira. Hawking and selling the naira on the street is a criminal offence and is punishable under the CBN Act of 2007”.

The apex bank governor, hinted that stern warning has been sent to the bank’s staff to steer clear from such practice as its consequences are severe sanction adding that “We have made it clear that any of our staff that is caught involved in that practice, that they will be dismissed and we have also made clear to banks that any bank personnel that is caught doing that, will be severely punished”.

While noting that the bank is a regulator, Mr. Emefiele stresses that it is the duty of the law enforcement agents of the country to enforce the law, “We have collaborated with them at different times. We have had raids in Lagos, Abuja, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Ibadan and we will continue to do that. some defaulters have been caught and their monies confiscated, prosecution of such people has been ongoing by the police.

On monies deducted from customers by their banks, Mr. Emefiele, said the regulatory bank has recovered and refunded over N65 billion from the banks since 2012/2013 “when we started receiving complains from people over wrong treatment of customers, wrong charges, and wrong deductions”.

The CBN governor stated that the bank has started direct disbursement of lower denomination notes across the country; but however lamented logistic issues which have aborted their move to Aba, for such disbursement, “We have been to Kano, Gombe, Bauchi, Lagos and Ibadan. We are working with market associations to distribute the lower denominations to them”.

He revealed that the decision of the bank to give value to coin was allegedly aborted by political gladiators but noted that people also dislike coins because it has no much value, “because the value of the money is not much, people will not want to carry coin but if you give the value to coin in such a way that N1 coin can pay your transport fare between Asaba and Onitsha, if a coin drops in your bedroom and under the bed, you will pull off the bed and begin to look for it”.

According to Mr. Emefiele, though the bank was not happy with the situation, but expressed the hope that “we are looking at a time when it will be possible to still use coins in Nigeria”, even as he expressed dissatisfaction over the failure of the ‘Anchor Borrower Programme’ in Delta.

“The anchor borrowers’ programme has been very successful in other states. In some other states, there are issues that have to do with the nature of the environment where it operates. In Delta State, there have been issues because we are working with banks of industry, agric insurance corporation.

“We have notice some issues and some input suppliers have not been paid but we are working together and we have stepped into the problem and I want to assure you that very soon, all those people will begin to smile because we need to solve that problem in order not to affect our own credibility”. Emefiele stated.

The apex bank Governor noted that the essence of the programme was to have an interface with Nigerians with better understanding of its operations and have a feedback geared towards solving their problems.

“the Central Bank today is a bank that is people focused. It is focused on the welfare of Nigerians. Every single policy that we undertake in the bank now is underscored and underpinned by the basic welfare of the average Nigerian”, lamenting that the ongoing road construction by the state government and the weather hindered participants from attending the event.

“This is not as much as I happened before. We have been told that the area around here that because of too much construction, that the traffic contributed to it and of course, it has been raining since yesterday. That is what we are told but we believed that tomorrow, the turnout will be much more”.

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