Police, in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have arrested 12 women for selling naira notes in parts of Lagos State. The women were allegedly selling mint naira notes to people going to parties to ‘spray’. They were arrested during a raid by officials of CBN and operatives of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba. The suspects are likely to be charged for contravening Section 21 of the CBN Act, 2007.
The suspects included Fausat Jimoh, Bisoye Oyegbile, Balikis Ajadi, Bisola Amoru, Abidemi Oladejo and Ajoke Suraj. The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of SCIID, Bolaji Salami, said six others were arrested penultimate weekend.
He said: “We are clamping down on those abusing our currency. It is an offence to sell naira notes at weddings or any gathering. It contravenes the CBN Act. We arrested six suspects the previous weekend and later arrested six others on Friday.
We recovered N35,500 from these suspects but N465,000 was recovered from those arrested last week. “They would be charged to court as soon as possible. Investigation would reveal how these suspects come about these new currencies. We are going to get to the root of it because the offence is punishable by N50,000 fine, or six months imprisonment or both.
No good country would allow its currency to be abused in anyway. That is what we are guiding against. The CBN is out to enforce the law and we would give them the necessary backing.”
An official of the CBN, who refused to be mentioned, said the apex bank was targeting its workers and Deposit Money Banks (DMB), as those fuelling the illegal trade. According to the official, CBN will clampdown on celebrants in venues where naira merchants are found.
He said: “We know that these are not the real targets because if they don’t get the mint notes, they won’t be able to sell it. So, our main targets are commercial banks and even our staff who release the money to these vendors.
“Once these suspects confess and mention their names, we would go after them. We are also going to start arresting Nigerians who organise events and allow those selling naira notes in their venues. Already, we have started arresting people who ‘spray’ money at social events. Sanity must return to our system and our currency must be respected.”
One of the women, Agadi, said low patronage of her hair dressing business pushed her into it. She claimed that she usually make N200 on each bundle of mint notes. Another suspect, Oyegbile, said that N37,500 was collected from her, an amount higher than the total recovery for Friday stated by the police.
She claimed that the law enforcers usually steal some of their money each time they come after them. According to Oyegbile, a man identified as Abdulahi usually supplies her while her colleagues get the money from banks.