Naira abuse, mutilation and production of counterfeit by Abass Mohammed

By Abass Mohammed

It is intrinsic in Africans, peculiarly Nigerians to spray money at parties, clubs, events, streets, and general social functions as a show of love.

This is predominantly a nature that cuts across all ethnic, tribes and culture. For Nigerians, what is a party without spraying of money and hype? Are you even Nigerian if do not like to spray money at events?

Well, except you are devoid of funds. It is however interesting to know that this trend and related habits of writing, stapling, tearing, soiling, sale, mutilation, currency speculation and rejection of naira are punishable crimes in Nigeria. Unfortunately, these are all common and related practices in the Nigerian space.

Do not be a guest of the prison

Over the years, the Central bank of Nigeria, in a bid to improve the physical appearance and lifespan of the banknotes in circulation have had course to increase production, change and recirculate the Naira banknotes at huge cost.

In a bid to enforce the existing provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, the central bank of Nigeria within its powers instituted the ‘Clean Notes Policy’ directed at ensuring that the quality of naira banknotes in circulation is in good condition to allow for processing and free acceptability by the general public.

This move is particularly aimed at public awareness campaign on naira abuse and banknote fitness standards to equip the public with clear, acceptable criteria for usage, handling of naira notes as well as determining the quality of the banknotes in circulation.

Basically, all these are geared towards enabling the longevity of the banknotes, avoiding the exorbitant cost of processing and replacement of bank notes, as well as the prevalence of dirty banknotes in circulation which poses potential health hazard to which many Nigerians can attest.

In February 2024, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, raised a Special Task Force against Currency Racketeering, Dollarization of the Nigerian Economy, Abuse, and Mutilation of Naira Notes.

The move essentially, gave life and enforcement to the pre-existing silent provision of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act on naira abuse.

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With the recent arrests and activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the awareness of spraying money as naira abuse at parties and social functions has been well established.

However, there are other forms of naira abuses which are common practices across the country. By the provision of section 21(1), (2), (3) and section 20(5)of the CBN Act 2007, the following are offence punishable by imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment. Top of the offences are:

•Writing on naira notes for accounting, identification or whatever reason is an offence.

•Stapling of naira notes.

•Tearing of naira notes.

•Soiling such as matching, dancing, stamping, or staining with ink or oil are ways of defacing the naira note are punishable offences.

•Mutilation or tampering with naira notes or coin is an offence punishable by law.

•Sale by vendors or hawking of naira note is an offence under the 21(4) of the CBN Act 2007.

•Rejection of naira notes as a means of payment in Nigeria is an offence punishable under section 20(5) of the CBN Act 2007.

The provision of section 21(1) of the CBN Act particularly provides for the punishment of naira abuse, while section 21(2), (3), (4) and (5) gave detailed identification and explanation the offences as provided below.

Section 21(2) CBN Act 2007 provides.

‘A coin or note shall be deemed to have been tampered with if the coin or note has been impaired, diminished or lightened otherwise than by fair wear and tear or has been defaced by stumping, engraving, mutilating, piercing, stapling, writing, tearing, soiling, squeezing or any other form of deliberate and willful abuse whether the coin or note has or has not been thereby diminished or lightened.’

21(3) of CBN ACT 2007 provides.

‘For the avoidance of doubt, spraying of, 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 Sub-section (1) of this section.

By the provision of section 16 of the CBN Act, it is the exclusive right of the Central Bank of Nigeria to determine the exchange rate of the naira from time to time by a devised mechanism.

It is an offence for any individual or institution to speculate the exchange rate of naira whether in the ‘parallel market’ or ‘black market’.

To be romantic is worthy of praise, not prison

It is imperative to reverberate, the provision of section 21(5)(ii) of the CBN Act as it relates to surprise factory vendors, romantic money decoration and sticking of the naira notes.

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To be romantic is worthy of praise and not prison. Gift surprise vendors should be weary and cautious of this relatable trend.

The provision of the above section captures adorning, decorating, sprinkling, sticking of naira notes or similar practices as an offence regardless of the amount, occasion, or intent.

Usage and production of counterfeit Naira notes for event

Generally, counterfeit and falsification of currency is pervasively known as fraud and a crime right from time in Nigeria. It is against the provision of the law for any individual or organization outside the Central Bank of Nigeria, to print money or be in possession of counterfeit notes.

However, there is an artless trend invoke, in an attempt to avoid the known method of abuse of naira and to keep the Nigerian party culture alive, people now produce counterfeit notes with high resemblance with naira notes for parties, clubs and social events.

It is absorbing to know, that this act attracts heavier and stricter punishment than the common abuse of spraying, if found guilty under section 20(4) of the CBN Act. It prescribes a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years for any person who falsify, make, or counterfeit any bank note.

In inference, public awareness and enlightenment of the public should be given more credence by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the law enforcement agencies (the Nigerian Police Force and the EFCC).

The Central Bank of Nigeria should intensify its responsibility of public sensitization on proper handling of naira notes and promotion of public confidence in our currency.

The law enforcement agencies should make similar effort in addition to their powers to arrest, investigate and prosecute. For instance, the ‘EFCC-CONNECT’ an online open sensitization forum of the citizens should be amplified. This is primarily because there is no relative gain in jailing or crime profiling citizens who have sufficiently been law-abiding with no actual intention to violate the law.

However, it is a well-established legal principle that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. People should be open to awareness, sensitization and be familiarized with the extant laws and most importantly get re-oriented on handling of the currency.


*Abass Mohammed,

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