The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday raised concerns over the increasing use of foreign currencies as a medium of exchange in the country and warned that persons caught in the illegal act risked a six-month jail term upon conviction.
The central bank said in a statement that some individuals and corporate bodies had been using foreign currencies, especially the United States dollar, to price some of their products and services, and were also using same as a medium of exchange.
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The development, the bank said, was against the provisions of the CBN Act, 2007, and asked members of the public to report anyone caught transaction business in the country in foreign currencies to it or the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The statement issued by the Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Ibrahim Muazu, read, “The attention of the bank has been drawn to the increasing use of foreign currencies in the domestic economy as a medium of payment for goods and services by individuals and corporates.
“It has also been observed that some institutions price their goods and services in foreign currencies and demand payment in foreign currencies rather than the domestic currency (the naira), which is the legal tender in Nigeria.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the attention of the general public is hereby drawn to the provision of the CBN Act of 2007, which states inter-alia that ‘the currency notes issued by the bank shall be legal tender in Nigeria…for the payment of any amount.’”
It added, “Furthermore, the Act stipulates that any person(s) who contravenes this provision is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a prescribed fine or six months imprisonment.
“This prohibition, however, is without prejudice to foreigners, visitors and tourists who are encouraged to continue to use their cards for payments or exchange their foreign currencies for the local currency at any of the authorised dealers’ outposts.
“The general public is hereby advised to report any contravention of the provision of this Act to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the CBN for appropriate action.”
Meanwhile, the naira fell to 204 against the dollar at the parallel market on Tuesday as politicians were said to be engaged in massive purchase of the greenback ahead of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on Saturday.
The naira had risen to 190 against the United States currency on Sunday following the peaceful conduct of the presidential election.
Foreign exchange dealers, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the naira tumbled on Tuesday after politicians mopped up dollars on the streets of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
“The naira is falling because politicians are buying dollars massively on the street market to fund the campaigns ahead of the governorship and states’ Houses of Assembly elections on Saturday,” one of the dealers said.