By Soni Daniel
No fewer than six top officials of Nigeria’s Central Bank and 16 other workers of commercial banks in the country have been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for a mega scam involving the sum of N8 billion.
The suspects were picked up by operatives of the anti-graft agency for stealing and putting into circulation defaced and mutilated Nigerian currency notes to the tune of N8 billion meant for destruction.
All the suspects have already been taken into EFCC custody preparatory to their arraignment at the Federal High Court, Ibadan on Tuesday, June 2. The trial will run till June 4 in a bid to speed up the prosecution of the suspects by the court.
A statement signed by the Head of Media of the EFCC, Mr. WilsonUwujaren, gave the names of the suspects as: Patience Okoro Eye( Abuja) , Afolabi Olufemi( Lagos), Kolawole Babalola( Ibadan), Olaniran Muniru Adeola(Ibadan), Fatai Yusuf, Adekunle( Head, Security, CBN, (Ibadan) and Ilori Adekunle Sunday,(Akure).
The 16 suspects who colluded with the CBN officials to commit the fraud are officials drawn from Zenith Bank, FCMB, Wema Bank, Access Bank, First Bank, Skye Bank, Ecobank and Sterling Bank.
The officials helped themselves with the mutilated N8 billion cash and burned old newspaper in place of the defaced Naira notes thereby making a mockery of the CBN rule relating to such money.
But the suspects ran out of luck when one of the bank officials petitioned the EFCC alleging on November 3, 2014 that over N6, 575, 549, 370.00 was cornered and discreetly recycled by light-fingered top executives of the CBN at the Ibadan branch.
The suspects, who were members of the Briquetting Panel, which handles the destruction of defaced notes from commercial banks, decided to play a fast one on the nation and smile to their banks but ran into a hitch for the first time.
In banking parlance, Briquetting is disintegration and destruction of counted and audited dirty notes. By this practice, depositor banks usually take mutilated notes to the CBN in exchange for fresh notes equivalent of the amount deposited.
But while carrying out the assignment, the team were alleged to have found one of the currency boxes filled only with old newspapers rather than 20 bundles of N1000 notes.
A similar case, according to investigation, had been discovered on September 22, 2014 when a box that was supposed to contain N500 notes to the tune of N5 billion was filled with old newspapers.
But unlike in the past, the latest fraud could not be swept under the carpet, as a member of the Briquetting Panel from the Osogbo branch blew the lid on the illicit deal.