Missing Mint Money

on   /   in Editorial 4:06 am   /   Comments

SOON all that the National Assembly would be doing is investigating or probing one matter or the other. Even before the committees set out on these missions, the public is always certain about the outcome: nothing.

It is therefore with benign equanimity that Nigerians learnt that money was missing from the Mint, the factory that prints the national currency, at least the bit that is not imported. Its official name is the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company. The Mint has no security.

The scandal is not that money is missing; a milder manner of reporting a theft, but the disclosure that nobody knows what was stolen. The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria guesses it is N2 billion, the Managing Director of the Mint said it was N1.5 billion while another Mint official posited an easily negligible N900, 000. The fact is that money was stolen from the Mint since early December.

It was not the first time. Would it be the last? For how long has this been happening? How was it possible? How much has been stolen? What about the numerous security cameras and body searches meant to forestall such occurrence? Who could steal from the Mint without official connivance?

To move N2 billion would require a sizeable vehicle, no matter the denomination in which the money is. Even the more paltry N900, 000 (an unlikely interest for a Mint thief) cannot be tucked into pockets. Stealing from the Mint falls in the realms of the highest levels of organised crime.

Now that thieves can have their take of the national wealth from source – in the same way they steal oil sources without punishment – chances are that criminals, in their numbers, would enroll for fuller participation in this supposedly new venture. It could bear less risk, yet with bountiful results.

The tragedy is that daily, the flanges of criminality are increasing with corresponding impunity. The organisation and technology that result in successful heists at the Mint are beyond the security agencies, and definitely out of the reach of the National Assembly.

All these are the sort of unattended threats the country faces. Criminals walk the streets and the corridors of power with certainty that they are beyond the law. National resources that require protection are at great risk.

If people can plunder the Mint, knowing they can use the stolen money without being detected, why would they not make an enterprise of it? We are faced with threats from another set of criminals and they are not petty thieves.
The National Assembly will probe this and more crimes.

It cannot prosecute the offenders. Nigerians are wondering what the security agencies do.

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