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Spraying of Naira notes is an offence punishable by imprisonment in Nigeria

Photo Credit: Kamdora 4 mins read

Some Facebook users recently argued that spraying of naira notes is an offence in Nigeria. They were reacting to the footage of the wedding of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter where guests were seen spraying Naira notes.

True: the claim that “spraying of naira notes is an offence” is true. Section 21 of the CBN Act 2007 clearly states that spraying of Naira notes is an offence punishable by six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both for offenders.

Full Text

President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hanan, got married to Mohammed Sani Sha’aban, at the Presidential Villa on Friday, September 4.

On Sunday, September 6, Sahara Reporters published footage of some moments at the wedding showing guests as they spray money on the smiling couple.

The footage has generated over 2,000 comments and about 5,000 shares on Sahara Reporters Facebook page, as of Saturday, September 12, with Nigerians arguing on the legality, or not, of spraying of Naira notes.

While some claimed that spraying of Naira notes is illegal, others argued that there is nothing wrong with it.

For instance, a Facebook user, Baffa Garba wrote: “I don’t see anything wrong here it’s just Naira and of course N200 Naira notes even an ordinary marriage may have better than this,  they are both from big background they have friends and relatives who can do it”

“Let be sincere with ourselves here,what do you expect them to spray is paper,or leaves, certainly it must be naira even if it is common Nigerian wedding ceremony naira must be sprayed.may God be with us,” another Facebook user, Semiu Adegoke, wrote.

However, Dare Olowookere, differed in his own submission, claiming that the practice is illegal. 

“Spraying of naira notes is an offence. CBN spent millions of naira every year for campaign against naira abuse, here the first family children disobeying the law. The CBN Governor might even be at this party. Truly Nigeria is a contradiction under this regime,” Olowokere claimed.

Verification

To confirm the veracity of the claim, Dubawa surfed the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s apex monetary authority, for relevant (legislative) documents.

Section 21 of the CBN Act 2007 deals with tampering with, and trading, in Naira notes. The Act prescribes “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 for anyone guilty of “spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions”.

The full section is reproduced below: 

“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.”

The law became necessary in a bid by the CBN to minimize “costs in printing and minting currency.”

Enforcement of the Act

Though the law has been in place since 2007, there has been no report of arrests or prosecution for spraying of Naira notes at social events, despite being a prevalent practice in the country.

The only reported cases of arrest have been about those hawking the notes, not those spraying. Few instances of the reports of such arrests can be found here, here and here

Also, the CBN’s “Clean Notes Policy” campaign to discourage the practice has not yielded much results.

A report by The Nation states that enforcing the law has been difficult because it “has had to contend with Nigerians’ culture of spraying money at social events”.

Even former president Olusegun Obasanjo who signed the bill into law was caught, with pictures, a situation which led to criticisms against the central bank for failing to enforce its laws, according to a Premium Times report.

Also, controversial former Kogi senator, Dino Melaye, was seen on video spraying notes on a singer, Yinka Ayefele, at his mother’s burial in 2019.

In 2018, the CBN and commercial banks announced they have resolved to introduce mobile courts to arrest currency hawkers and people who spray at parties.

“In the near future, there is going to be an introduction of mobile courts to handle such situations and those caught would be dealt with on the spot,” Hamda Ambah, managing director, FSDH Merchant Bank, said on behalf of the Bankers Committee.

Two years later, nothing has been heard about the proposed mobile court.

The CBN did not respond to Dubawa‘s email asking for the progress so far made in terms of the enforcement of the Act since 2007.

Conclusion

Spraying of Naira notes at social occasions or any other place is an offense, according to the CBN Act 2007. Section 21 of the Act prescribes a fine of N50,000 or six months imprisonment or both for anyone found culpable. 

However, there is no evidence anyone has been arrested and prosecuted for the offence, despite its prevalence in the country.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

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