Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and deposit money banks of promoting illegality by sponsoring hawking of mint on the streets and consequently mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to investigate their roles in the matter.
The parliament also challenged the CBN to strengthen its audit system particularly in relation to collation, processing and disposing of defaced and mutilated notes.
In a motion, Senator Mao Ohuanbunwa (Abia North), said “every country’s currency is a national treasure deserving of a level of dignity, and Nigeria naira is not an exception. Yet throughout the country from Lagos to Sokoto, Kano, Enugu, Port Harcourt and even the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a huge illicit industry has been built around trading on freshly minted naira notes by certain individuals who engage in the touting and hawking of the nation’s treasure and legal tender.”
He described hawking as a violation of Section 21(4) of CBN Act 2007 which he said was punishable adding that illicit trade of mint was responsible for scarcity of new notes across the country.
“The Senate is aware that the hawkers dealing on the illicit trade in naira, focus on the denominations of N5, N10, N20, N50 and N100 notes, and through that encourage the persistent scarcity of new notes in these denominations, while making huge spreads of above N250 on every N1000 notes sold.
“Whereas these afore-mentioned illicit activities constitute a violation of Section 21(4) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007, which state inter-alia: 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.”
“Amazed that security agencies continue to look elsewhere while the illicit trade on Naira notes go on, and these new notes which are scarce in the banking halls readily get into the hands of illegal hawkers, even as Money Deposit Bank and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) continue to dispense dirty and mutilated naira notes to legitimate account holders. These acts certainly cast the activities of the CBN and the money deposit banks in bad light as the illegal sources of the naira notes in this illegal trade,” he stated.