The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has alerted Nigerians over the high rate of fake naira banknotes in circulation.

The apex bank issued the alert in a statement it released on Friday, advising Deposit Money Banks, Financial Houses, Bureaux de Change, and the public to be vigilant and implement adequate precautionary measures.

The CBN said in the statement read that its attention “has been drawn to the circulation of counterfeit banknotes, significantly higher denominations, by some individuals for transactions in food markets and other commercial centers across major cities in the country”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 20(4) of the CBN Act (2007) as amended, states that: “It shall be an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years for any person to falsify, make or counterfeit any bank note or coin issued by the Bank which is legal tender in Nigeria,” the apex bank said.

“The CBN is constantly collaborating with relevant security and financial agencies to confiscate fake Naira banknotes and arrest and prosecute counterfeiters.

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“Members of the public are also encouraged to report anyone suspected of having counterfeit naira notes to the nearest police station or branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria

“Meanwhile, all Deposit Money Banks, Financial Houses and Bureau de Change and the general public are enjoined to be more vigilant and take all necessary precautionary measures to curtail the acceptance and distribution of counterfeit notes.

“Furthermore, the general public is encouraged to embrace alternative modes of payment, e-channels, for day-to-day transactions to mitigate the risk of spreading counterfeit banknotes,” it said.

The CBN, however, assured the public that it is working with law enforcement operatives to apprehend those responsible for circulating fake naira banknotes.