The Central Bank of Nigeria warned in Abuja on Tuesday that those abusing the naira notes were liable to go to jail.
It warned that the law banning the “spraying’’ and the stepping on the naira notes, especially at social gatherings was still in force and offenders were liable to six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Section 21 (3) of the CBN Act 2007 provides that the mishandling of the naira is a punishable offence.
The Principal Manager, Currency Operations Department at the CBN, Ms Ngozi Etim, gave the warning when she spoke with NAN.
She said the CBN was working with the police, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to curb the abuse.
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.
Etim stressed that the naira remained the pride of the nation and must be kept clean at all times.
In his remarks, the CBN’s Director, Corporate Communication, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, urged Nigerians to always treat the naira with care.
Nwanisobi condemned the idea of hurling 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.
NAN reports that there have been videos of famous Nigerians, including politicians, subjecting the naira to abuse.
Naira notes have also become items of trade at garages and motor parks in different parts of the country, especially during festive periods.
The CBN has, however, declared that anybody caught abusing the naira would be punished.