Many Nigerians have called out the first family for violating part of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act at the wedding ceremony of Hanan Buhari, one of the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Many also condemned the safety guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with regards to overcrowding and social distancing to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hanan and Turad, son of a former lawmaker, Mahmud Sani Sha’aban, got married at the Aso Rock villa on Friday – a ceremony which was graced by top government officials, members of the diplomatic community and politicians.
Pictures and videos from the wedding, including those shared on Instagram by the first lady, Aisha Buhari, went viral and trended throughout the weekend.
One video circulated by Sahara Reporters showed the couple dancing and other attendees dancing while some dancers sprayed money on the couple. No social distancing was observed in the video and many attendees were seen without face masks.
This generated outrage as many expressed disappointments at the public figures and other attendees for breaching the CBN Act as well as the NCDC safety guidelines.
Many called for sanctions for offenders while a few others believed the wedding should have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic situation in the country which has caused hardship in the lives of citizens.
What the law says
Section 21 of the CBN Act warns against defacing the Naira. It prescribes a fine of N50,000 or six months imprisonment or both for offenders.
“21. (1) A person who tampers with a coin or note with or trading in 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,” part of the Act states.
The law further clarifies the term “spraying in Section 21(5):
“(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 CBN has often re-echoed its fight against the abuse of Naira notes either by spraying at events, trampling on or squeezing it.
The bank has repeatedly vowed that it would clamp down on any person or group culpable of such acts.
With regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials of the NCDC, other public officers including the president, have on several occasions warned against breaching the safety guidelines issued by the agency.
Offenders, including celebrities, have been made to face sanctions ranging from community service to payment of fines.
Although the number of new cases has declined in recent times, the country is still battling with the pandemic as well as the impact on citizens and the country.
As at Monday, the number of confirmed cases stood at 55,160 with 1061 deaths.
As it stands, only social critics have condemned the act publicly.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, did not respond to telephone calls put across to him. The CBN’s spokesperson, Isaac Okoroafor, could not be reached via telephone as well.
Although Hanan’s wedding is one of many ceremonies across Nigeria where the Naira has been defaced and the CBN Act violated, there have been few reports of prosecution of offenders by the authorities.