Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has read a riot act to Nigerians abusing the naira, saying such persons, if caught, are liable to go to jail.
It warned that those who spray and step on the naira, especially at functions, are liable to six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000.
Section 21(3) of the CBN Act 2007 says mishandling of the naira is a punishable offence.
Principal Manager of Currency Operations Department at the CBN, Ngozi Etim, gave the warning when she spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
She said the CBN was working with the police, the FIRS, the EFCC and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to check the abuse of the country’s legal tenser.
She condemned the “spraying” of money in public, adding that the envelope remained the best and acceptable means of extending goodwill at events.
“Money should not be squeezed but be put in envelopes. Oil should not be allowed to touch money; keep it neat like you keep your clothes.
“You do not dirty your clothes and you do not keep your clothes on the ground, so, there is need to keep our naira well,” she said.
She added that the CBN Act empowered it to arrest those who abused the naira, stressing that the naira remains the pride of the nation and must be kept clean at all times.
In his remarks, CBN’s Director, Corporate Communication, Osita Nwanisobi, urged Nigerians to always treat the naira with care.
Nwanisobi decried the idea of tossing wads of naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions.
“There have also been cases where people mishandle the naira, deface it, or hawk it at parties. Contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is neither cultural nor moral for people to disrespect the currency, which citizens trade in,” he stressed.
There have been videos of famous Nigerians, including politicians, treating the naira in a scornful and unflattering manner.