CBN releases fresh instructions for Nigerian banks as EFCC plans to raid currency hawkers

Indications have emerged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to raid new naira note racketeers in key commercial cities including Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna.

The commission indicated this on Tuesday when it disclosed that it had arrested members of a syndicate of currency racketeers trading in the redesigned naira notes at Zone 4, Wuse and Dei-Dei axis of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Abuja suspects were nabbed during an operation to halt the illicit currency trading carried out by the anti-graft agency between Saturday and Monday.

The EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the development in a statement on Tuesday.

Findings from EFCC officials showed its operatives had penned down some commercial nerve centres in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna, where currency hawkers are having a field day.

The EFCC planned raids came on the heels of similar raids of currency hawkers and racketeers by personnel of the Department of State Services.

The EFCC planned raids came a day after the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefile, said the apex bank would collaborate with law enforcement agencies such as the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, to track heavy withdrawals.

The CBN had extended the deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes from January 31 to February 10.

The Department of State Services revealed on Monday that its operatives arrested some currency traders who had turned the sale of newly redesigned notes into brisk business.

The secret police also alleged that the perpetrators were working in cahoots with officials of commercial banks.

Meanwhile, the EFCC further noted that its findings revealed that some of the money traders were working with officials of Money Deposit Banks, vowing to extend its operation to all major commercial centres across the country until all the syndicates involved in the illegal trade are demobilized.

The anti-graft agency also urged financial market operators to ensure compliance with the guidelines set by the CBN.

It added, “The suspects have made useful statements, including a disclosure that they were acting in cohort with some unscrupulous officials of Money Deposit Banks.

“The commission will extend the operation to all the major commercial centres of the country until all the syndicates involved in the illegal trade are demobilised. Financial system operators are also warned to desist from the sharp practices or risk arrest and prosecution.

“Zonal commanders of the EFCC also met with officials of various banks in their commands in an effort to ascertain the volume of the new notes issued to the commercial banks and how the banks were dispensing the monies to their customers.”

“The commanders urged the financial market operators to ensure compliance with the guidelines set by the Central Bank of Nigeria while disclosing that they have dispatched operatives across their commands to monitor the level of compliance by banks and other operators in the financial market.”

The CBN governor, Emefiele, in a meeting with commercial banks on Monday also reportedly directed banks not to pay old notes via ATMs or over the counter.

He equally instructed the EFCC and ICPC officials to inspect bank branches over the next two weeks to ensure full compliance with the guidelines.

The reported directive read in part, “At the CBN Bankers Committee meeting today (Monday), the governor instructed Banks as follows: No Bank is authorised to pay out old notes via ATMs or in bank branches over-the-counter

“No payment of new notes over the counter. Banks are only allowed to release new notes via ATMs. Corporates that require cash should only be given the old N100 notes and below. Corporates must not be given new notes.

“EFCC/ICPC officials will accompany CBN examiners to inspect bank branches over the next two weeks to assess full Compliance with CBN guidelines above.

“Officials of branches that fail to comply or that release cash to corporates and politicians will face termination of their contracts and the respective banks will be sanctioned

 “No branch should allow an individual with multiple debit cards to do multiple transactions on ATMs.

“All new notes have tracking numbers to trace them back to state, bank and bank branches. So, notes confiscated at parties and other locations can be traced back to the bank and applicable branch.

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