The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reversed its decision and directed banks to begin issuing new Naira notes to customers over the counter (OTC).
According to the apex bank, the order was issued to reduce queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country.
CBN Governor Godiwn Emefiele gave the directive in Abuja on Thursday.
According to CBN Director Corporate Communication Osita Nwanisobi, banks can only pay N20,000 of the new notes to individuals over the counter per day.
“The Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to begin the payment of the redesigned Naira notes over the counter, subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000,” according to the statement.
The CBN urged Nigerians to “exercise patience as the CBN works assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs” in order to ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced naira banknotes.
Speaking to the long queues at ATM points, Nwanisiobi lamented the queues at ATMs across the country “and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes”.
He said these people “serially obtain cash from ATMs for reasons best known to them. Also worrisome are the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN”.
The CBN spokesman appealed to Nigerians “to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.
“The CBN and security agencies are making moves to go after party guests who abuse the Naira. In the same statement, Nwanisiobi said “it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever” describing those engaging in these practices as “unpatriotic persons”.
Those who “sell the newly redesigned banknotes and those who flagrantly abuse the legal tender by hurling wads of Naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions” were particularly frowned upon by the CBN.
To stop this practice, Nwanisiobi said “the 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”.
He warned Nigerians, “particularly those attending social functions such as birthdays, weddings, and funerals,” not to disrespect the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.
“The Naira is our legal tender and a symbol of national pride,” he says. Therefore, let us respect it and handle it with care”.
Nwanisiobi drew the attention of party guests to “section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (As amended),” which states that “spraying, 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, imprisonment, or both.”
Section 21(4) also states, “It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell, or otherwise trade in Naira notes, coins, or any other note issued by the Bank.”