Ibrahim Mu’azu, director, corporate communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has given an insight into the how the N8 billion currency scam was carried out by no fewer than 22 suspects who are to face trial in Ibadan. Six of the suspects were former staff of CBN. They are Patience Okoro Eye (Abuja), Afolabi Olufemi (Lagos), Kolawole Babalola (Ibadan), Olaniran Muniru Adeola (Ibadan), and Fatai Yusuf Adekunle (Head, Security, CBN, (Ibadan) and Ilori Adekunle Sunday (Akure) They are standing trial along with 16 other suspects from various commercial banks.
Mu’azu said that the alleged crime was uncovered during an investigation ordered by Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the CBN. He said that “as soon as the Bank’s internal investigations concluded beyond reasonable doubt that some wrong doing had occurred, the affected members of staff who are middle-level officers were, depending on gravity of offence, either summarily dismissed or immediately placed on indefinite suspension on October 21, 2014, and then handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution. The CBN has also conducted a nationwide audit of all 37 branches of the Bank and found that this was an isolated scheme at Ibadan Branch. “The Bank will continue to collaborate with the EFCC to ensure that affected CBN staff as well as their accomplices in some commercial banks are brought to justice,” Mu’azu said.
The alleged crime was uncovered during an internal audit of the bank’s cash destruction activities in September 2014. During the investigation, it was discovered that a systematic scheme, which had been on for several years, was being run in which mutilated higher denomination notes originally meant for destruction were swapped with lower denomination currencies. This practice known as interleafing, basically labels a box with a higher value than its true content.
An economist, Henry Boyo, was not alarmed by the crime. According to him, bigger frauds are going on within the CBN which the public take for granted. “It did not surprise me at all. It was expected. What is clear is that the institution of the CBN is fraught with fraud. Whether it is the intervention fund or monetary policy strategy, it is the more you look, the less you see,” he said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze