By Nume Ekeghe
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday disclosed plan to collaborate with the Ministry of Justice and other government agencies to establish mobile courts that will be charged with the responsibility of prosecuting currency hawkers and those in the habit of defacing and spraying the nation’s currency at ceremonies.
The CEO, FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Ms. Hamda Ambah, disclosed this while briefing journalists at the end of a Bankers’ Committee meeting in Lagos.
She said the initiative would be done in collaboration with the banks as well.
Ambah said, “We are going to be disseminating information on the right way to handle the naira so that people do not handle the money incorrectly.
“And specifically, one of the things we are frowning on and action is to be taken on people who sell the currency.
“In the near future, there is going to be an introduction of mobile court to handle such situation and those caught would be dealt with on the spot.”
Providing more insights on issues surrounding handling of the naira, the Director, Corporate Communications of the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the CBN Act 2017 outlaws any action by anyone who sprays, squeezes, dances on or writes on it.
According to him, “That Act makes it possible to give six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both the fine and imprisonment.
“We are collaborating with every agency of government, the Ministry of Justice, judiciary and the Nigeria Police and we would insist that those who abuse the naira would be punished.”
Also speaking during the media briefing, the Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said the committee deliberated on the real sector and ways to continue to pursue growth in the real sector.
He said, “It was resolved at the Bankers’ Committee that discretionary Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) that has been built over time should be channelled towards agriculture in a very impactful manner.
“The deliberations were that most of the monies should also be channelled towards the manufacturing sector so basically looking at the entire value chain of the manufacturing sector.
“The idea was that if it was done properly in the way it is being pursued, very soon or sometime in the future the central bank may start looking at ways to reduce allocations to specific items because we would have been producing sufficient locally to enable us restrict imports. That way, the pressure on our reserves would be reduced.”
Furthermore, Wigwe stressed the need to continue to pursue import substitution policies and support agriculture to the point where importation of basic goods would be minimised.
He said, “And we should support manufacturing to the extent that it would minimise importation of manufactured items particularly items that can be produced in Nigeria.
“What the Bankers Committee is saying is that we should basically devote enough resources to different items such that over time, and soon, we can no longer allocate resources anymore because it would be produced locally.
“That is the only way in the long-term we can create a robust economy that is not subjected to vagaries of oil prices.”
On his part, the Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Mr. Ahmad Abdullahi, disclosed that the Bankers’ Committee noted the challenges the economy is facing “are challenges that are not peculiar to only Nigeria but to all emerging economies.”
“However, we recognise that all hands should be on the deck for us to work together to ensure that the slowdown in economic growth is reversed so we don’t get into the same territory with south Africa,” the CBN Director said.
Also, the Managing Director, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Emeka Emuwa said, “For payment services, there is a draft framework which should come out in 24 hours. We would talk about the guidelines and framework which would be able to deepen financial inclusion through a specific model of payment service providers.”