Not less that 12 women have been arrested for selling crisp clean naira notes, popularly called ‘mint’ in a joint raid by officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and Operatives of Lagos State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SCIID, Yaba.
The mint naira notes in different denominations were recovered from the vendors who were arrested at event centres and bus stops in different parts of the state for contravening the 2007 CBN Act.
While parading the suspects at the weekend, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of SCIID, Salami Bolaji, described their action as an offence.
“We are clamping down on those abusing our currency. It is an offense to sell naira notes at weddings or any gathering. It contravenes the CBN Act. We arrested six suspects the previous weekend, while six others were arrested today (weekend).
“We recovered N35,500 from the former, while N465,000 was recovered from those arrested last week. They (the arrested new naira notes vendors) would be charged to court as soon as possible.
“Investigations are ongoing to reveal how these suspects came 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.”
Bolaji stressed that no good country will allow its currency to be abused in anyway, which is why they are guarding against it. He adds that CBN is out to enforce the law and the police will give them the necessary backings.
The suspects— Fausat Jimoh, Bisoye Oyegbile, Balikis Ajadi, Bisola Amoru, Abidemi Oladejo and Ajoke Suraj— refused to disclose identities of those who sold the mint notes to them.
They simply stated that it was their source of livelihood, revealing that N150 was charged on every N1,000 mint exchanged with old notes. But the charges differ according to the area and the personality of patrons. In high brow areas and events organised by social bigwigs, N200 and above is charged on N1,000 mint naira notes.
Meanwhile, an undisclosed source at the CBN alleged that these naira note vendors get the mint notes by conniving with some CBN staff as well as those in the Deposit Money Banks, DMBs.
To checkmate the illicit trade, the source threatened that any bank staff, whether of CBN or any of the commercial banks, found to be fueling the illegal trade, would be arrested.
He further threatened that celebrants at events, where mint Naira notes were sold, would be arrested alongside the vendors.
“We know that these are not the real targets. If they do not get the mint notes, they won’t be able to sell. So our main targets are commercial banks and even our staff, who release this 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.”