Central Bank To Go Tough On Naira Sellers, Hawkers

… Blame Delta Government, weather Over Low Turnout
By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in its determination to rid the country’s currency from being abused especially by those who sell and hawk the money. It has vowed to deal with those involved even as the bank said “selling the money is a criminal offence”.

This is part of its programme held Tuesday with the theme: “Promoting Financial Stability and Economic Development”, at Hampton Hotel, Okpanam road, a suburb of Asaba, the Delta State capital.

The Ag Director Corporate Communication of the apex bank, Mr Okorafor Isaac, who represented the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said that the bank has shown commitment at discouraging people from hawking the naira.

In his words: “the Central Bank of Nigeria is very commmitted 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 Ag Director hinted that stern warning has been sent to the bank staff to steer clear from such practice as its consequence is severe sanction, “we have made it clear that any of our staff that is caught involved in that practice, will be dismissed and we have also made it clear to banks that any bank personnel that is caught doing that, will be severely punished”.

While noting that the bank is a regulator, he said it is the duty of the Nigerian police 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”, he assured.

According to him, some defaulters have been caught and their monies confiscated, saying that the prosecution of such people has been ongoing by the police.

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

He said the bank has started direct disbursement of lower denomination notes across the country; lamenting logistic issues 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”.

He said though the bank was not happy with the situation, he expressed hope that “we are looking at a time when it will be possible to still use coins in Nigeria”.

He expressed sadness 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 and agric insurance corporation. We have noticed 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”.

He 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 what happened before. We have been told that of the impediments caused by construction works in this area which may have caused sever traffic situation 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”.