Abuja: The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned banks and citizens sternly, cautioning them to remain vigilant against the rising circulation of counterfeit banknotes, particularly in higher denominations.
The apex bank has emphasized that the distribution of fake currency threatens the financial system and is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.
In a statement released today and signed by the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Mrs Sidi Ali, Hakama, the CBN expressed concern over the increased prevalence of counterfeit notes being used in transactions, especially in food markets and commercial centres across major cities in Nigeria.
The statement underscores the gravity of the situation, calling for collective efforts to combat this illicit activity.
The CBN invoked Section 20(4) of the CBN Act (2007), as amended, which explicitly deems it an offence punishable by a minimum of five years imprisonment for anyone involved in falsifying, making, or counterfeiting any banknote or coin issued by the central bank, provided it is legal tender in Nigeria.
This legal provision underscores the seriousness with which the CBN views the issue and the potential consequences for offenders.
The statement revealed that the CBN is actively collaborating with relevant security and financial agencies to identify and apprehend individuals involved in producing and circulating fake Naira banknotes.
The apex bank reassured the public of its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the national currency and urged citizens to report any suspected counterfeit currency cases to law enforcement agencies or directly to the CBN through firstname.lastname@example.org.
The broader financial sector, including Deposit Money Banks, Financial Houses, and Bureau de Change, has been urged to enhance vigilance and adopt necessary precautionary measures to stem the acceptance and distribution of counterfeit notes.
The CBN’s appeal for increased scrutiny aligns with the imperative to safeguard the financial system from the harmful effects of counterfeit currency.
Furthermore, the public has been encouraged to explore alternative modes of payment and electronic channels for day-to-day transactions as a proactive measure to mitigate the risk of inadvertently accepting counterfeit banknotes.
Embracing modern payment methods is seen as a strategic move to reduce the reliance on physical currency and enhance the overall security of financial transactions.
As Nigeria grapples with the challenge of counterfeit currency, the CBN’s alert serves as a crucial call to action for both financial institutions and citizens to collaborate to curb this illicit activity and uphold the integrity of the nation’s currency.
The battle against counterfeit currency requires collective vigilance, and the CBN’s message underscores the shared responsibility to protect the nation’s financial well-being.