The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said the number of governors being monitored by the agency for possible money laundering arising from the redesign of the naira is rising.
Speaking to correspondents after a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, he, however, declined to give the exact number of state chief executives involved.
The anti-graft agency had previously revealed that three governors were being watched on the suspicion that they might attempt to launder stashed cash in their possession which they might not be able to lodge in the bank before the deadline by the Central Bank of Nigeria to return old notes for redesign.
Bawa commended the apex bank’s initiative to redesign some naira denominations, describing it as a significant process in the country’s fight against financial crimes and other forms of corruption.
He said, “On the issue of the governors that we are monitoring, in fact, the numbers have even increased. We are monitoring everything; Nigerians are helping. Well, I don’t want to give you the figures so that you will not go and speculate whether they are in the north or in the south, but it’s important that Nigerians key into it.”
Commending the redesign initiative and how significant the amount of cash out of CBN’s control is, Bawa said, “Oh, it is, it is very significant. You know that there is an obligation of money laundering law that we have, in which an individual is expected to carry out a transaction that is above N5m through the financial institution, there is also the threshold in which a corporate entity is expected to carry out transactions that is above N10m in the financial sector and why is it so?
“It is so because financial institutions are expected to make currency transaction reports, and suspicious transaction reports to relevant agencies. With that, institutions like us will be able to monitor which funds are legitimate and which ones are not legitimate.
“Here we are now, in which 85% of our currency is out in circulation and people are carrying out transactions above the thresholds as provided by this provision over and above that we will not be able to monitor; we don’t know what they’re doing.
“These are the transactions that are creating and giving avenues to other forms of crime that we’re seeing in this country; payment of ransom, banditry, and all of that, payment of bribery to political actors, and the arrest.
“So, it is a good thing for all of us, for the entire country and that is why we are calling on Nigerians to embrace the policy.”
The EFCC boss urged politicians to go about their campaigns without using illegitimate funds.
Speaking on the Eagle Eye, an app recently introduced by the commission, he said the initiative was to ease the reporting of crime.
“Let me use this opportunity to remind Nigerians that Eagle Eye is very important for those that are reporting the holders of these currencies that we know that are out there,” he added.
Miyeti Allah seeks deadline extension
Meanwhile, the leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, South-East chapter, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, has appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria to extend the deadline for the circulation of the country’s new currencies.
Siddiki said the deadline of December 15, 2022, should be extended for another three months to enable members of the association to bring out their money from the forests and avoid huge losses.
He said the appeal became necessary because the group was mostly living in forests and bushes as a result of their business and they needed more time to bring out their savings for proper transformation to the new redesigned notes.
He said, “We are appealing because in 1985, when a similar policy was announced, many of our people who were in their grazing settlements in rural areas across the country lost their money because the information came too quickly and was not properly communicated to them.”