For quite a long time now, Nigerians have been experiencing a situation where the N100 Nigerian currency notes in circulation has been causing a great embarrassing to this country. The most surprising part of the situation is that there are different kinds of N100 notes in circulation: some are ragged; some are joined together with the help of anything that can hold the disjoining parts together; some are totally torn and defaced etc. whereas, one cannot say that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria-herein after referred to as CBN- are not aware of this situation. Also, the silence of the President and the CBN on this situation especially in correcting the anomaly necessitated the writing of this paper as a whistle blowing so that the President, the CBN would be able to secure national integrity for Nigeria.
Under the CBN Act, 2007, section 2, especially section 2(a) and (b) of the Act, has stated the object of the CBN thus ‘The principal objects of the Bank shall be to – (a) ensure monetary and price stability; (b) issue legal tender currency in Nigeria;’. Also, by section 15 of the Act, the unit of currency in Nigeria shall be the Naira which shall be divided into one hundred kobo. And ‘Bank’ by section 60 of the CBN Act (supra) means the CBN. Also, by section 17 of the Act, it is provided thus ‘The Bank shall have the sole right of issuing currency notes and coins throughout Nigeria and neither the Federal Government nor any State Government, Local Government, other person or authority shall issue currency notes, bank notes or coins or any documents or tokens payable to bearer on demand being document or token which are likely to pass as legal tender.
Furthermore, I have considered the provisions of the following sections of the CBN Act (supra), the provisions which I humbly refer the readers of this paper to to pay deep attention to. They are as follows: sections: 18. The Bank shall – (a) arrange for the printing of currency notes and the minting of coins; (b) issue, re-issue and exchange currency notes and coins at the Bank’s offices and at such agencies as it may, from time to time, establish or appoint; (c) arrange for the safe custody of un-issued stocks of currency notes and for the preparation, safe custody and destruction of plates and paper for the printing of currency notes and disc for the minting of coins; and (d) arrange for the destruction of currency notes and coins withdrawn from circulation under the provisions of section 20 (3) of this Act or otherwise found by the Bank to be unfit for use. 19. –(1) The currency notes and coins issued by the Bank shall be – (a) in such denominations of the Naira or fractions thereof as shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the Board; and (b) of such forms and designs and bear such devices as shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the Board. (2) The standard weights and composition of coins issued by the Bank and the amount of remedy and variation shall be determined by the President on the recommendation of the Board. 20. –(1) The currency notes issued by the Bank shall be legal tender in Nigeria at their face value for the payment of any amount. (2) The coins issued by the Bank shall, if such coins have not been tampered with, be legal tender in Nigeria at their face value up to such amount or amounts as may be determined, from time to time, by the Bank. (3) Notwithstanding sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, the Bank shall have power, if directed to do so by the President and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coin with respect to which a notice has been given under this sub-section, shall , on the expiration of the notice, cease to be legal tender, but, subject to section 22 of this Act, shall be redeemed by the Bank upon demand. (4) It shall be an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years for any person to falsify, make or counterfeit any bank note or coin issued by the Bank which is legal tender in Nigeria. (5) A person who refuses to accept the Naira as a means of payment is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N50,000 or 6 months imprisonment: Provided that the Bank shall have powers to prescribe them circumstances and conditions under which other currencies may be used as medium of exchange in Nigeria. 21.-(1) A person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the Bank is guilty of an offence and shall on notes and coins 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. (2) 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. (3) 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. (4) It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank. (5) In this section—— (i) “Matching” includes spreading scattering or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent. (ii) “Spraying” includes adorning, decorating or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of the Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.’.
Therefore, from the above provisions of the CBN Act (supra), it is clear that the printing and minting of all Nigerian currencies including the N100 notes are within the exclusive powers and functions of the CBN. Also, the CBN has the powers to withdraw all defamed or defaced currencies including the N100 notes from circulation for the purpose of their destruction and to then provide a better currency into circulation.
Furthermore, one of the surprising scenarios is when banks, ATMs and other government’s financial institutions too issue some of the defaced N100 notes to customers. Also, commercial vehicles too and the passengers as well as all Nigerians are almost taking this situation as a normal situation, whereas, it is an embarrassing situation that ought not to be tolerated. Also, several Nigerians are used to squeezing the N100 notes; folding; writing on in place of a paper, among others, whereas, they do not do the same with the dollars of the United States of America and currencies of other countries. We do all these wrongs to this country by ourselves despite the consequences in section 21 of the CBN Act (supra), which penalizes any of the wrong doings to our currencies. I have also observed that coins are still part of our currencies but it is surprising that one hardly finds anyone spending these coins.
In all these sad situations, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (being the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation) and the CBN have a lot of roles to play in correcting all these embarrassing situations and that is what this paper humbly requests from both of them to withdraw the bad N100 notes from circulation and destroy same with immediate effect. More so, this paper is just at the right time when the new financial year of the CBN shall commence pursuant to section 48 of the CBN Act (supra) which provides thus ‘The Financial Year of the Bank shall begin on 1st January and end on 31st December’.
Finally, Nigeria is a great country. A country blessed with many natural resources, good weather conditions and peoples of diverse ethnics and dialects. So, any Nigerian that is proud of this country would not demand embarrassment for her! It is indeed our father land! I am proud to be a Nigerian!