Rate of Naira Counterfeiting Less Than 1%, CBN Insists

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Obinna Chima

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday put the total volume of counterfeit currency notes in the country from January to December 2016 at 0.0014 per cent or 14 counterfeit pieces out of one million bank notes.

The banking sector regulator which apparently was reacting to Monday’s statement by one of its former Deputy Governor, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, that  20 per cent of the currency in circulation in Nigeria was fake, described the statement by the ex-central banker as “spurious and grossly uninformed claims.”

​The CBN in a statement  signed by its acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, noted that while the central bank acknowledged that no currency in the world was immune from counterfeitingtout stressed that the  rate of counterfeiting in Nigeria had been very minimal due to appropriate policies put in place by the Bank.

It added: “Indeed, our records at the Bank clearly indicate that the prevalence of counterfeit notes in Nigeria from January to December 2016 was less than one per cent (0.0014%) or 14 counterfeit pieces out of one million bank notes. In line with our core value of proactivity, we have always endeavored to use strong security features to make it difficult for dishonest persons to counterfeit the currency.

“In addition to that, we have carried out periodic massive nation-wide enlightenment of Nigerians on easy identification of fake bank notes and the reporting of such. We therefore find it rather curious that a former high ranking official of the CBN would make such bogus and unauthentic claims apparently calculated to destroy confidence in our national currency and sabotage the collaborative efforts of the CBN and the federal government at ensuring enduring stability of the financial system.

“The unfortunate implication of the fabricated claim of the said former official of the Bank, is that it gives the false impression that two bills out of every N10 pieces held by an individual is ‘fake’.”

Furthermore, the central bank challenged Mailafia to make public the empirical evidence suggesting that 20 per cent naira currency in circulation was fake.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the CBN frowns strongly at attempts to counterfeit the naira. We remain committed to safeguarding the value of the naira by ensuring that our naira banknotes are not susceptible to counterfeiting. We also work constantly with relevant security agencies to monitor and check the activities of counterfeiters.

“Members of the public are therefore advised to disregard the false alarm raised by the said former CBN official, be wary of the activities of counterfeiters and report any case of counterfeiting to the police and their banks,” it stated.

Mailafia who made the disclosure while speaking at the opening session of a three-day public hearing on the 2017 budget appropriation process in the National Assembly, had also noted that when fake currencies of that magnitude circulate, original currencies become scarce, warning that “bad money chases away good money”.