Obi Cubana (2nd left) and Abba Kyari at the Event Photo: NaijaNews

Mixed reactions over likely arrest, prosecution of Naira abusers at Obi Cubana’s event

*Stakeholders have maintained that it is important for Nigerian consumers to value the national currency because by throwing and marching on the Naira notes, they are showing less value for the currency

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Following the several videos that went viral on the Internet, reflecting how Nigerian celebrities, business people, and politicians sprayed and abused Naira, the national currency, during a concert after the interment of Obi Cubana’s mother, the Anambra State Police Command, in South-East Nigeria, has been indicted of dragging its feet on the possible arrest and prosecution of the culprits.

ConsumerConnect gathered the Police officer at the Command have reportedly remained silent on whether or not it would arrest and prosecute the Naira abusers at the burial of the mother of Mr. Obi Iyiegbu, Chairman of Cubana Group, popularly known as ‘Obi Cubana’.

According to Section 21 of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act 2007, a person who sprays the Naira risks imprisonment for a term not less than six months or a fine not less than N50,000 or to both.

It was learnt that for days since Thursday, July 15, 2021, Obi Cubana has been a social media sensation and rave of the moment, especially with the ‘Naira rain’ at the event in Oba, a town in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

A report also said in one of the videos, Obi Cubana was seen displaying his football skills while one of the personalities threw wad of cash at him.

The 46-year-old businessman literally turned bales of naira to round leather as he kicked and chested it, according to report.

Even Kanayo O. Kanayo, a veteran actor, among scores of other ‘celebrities’, was also seen spraying crisp and mint notes on Obi Cubana who relished the tuneful rhythm seeping from the background.

Checks also revealed that several videos went viral, showing celebrities, business people and politicians spray money indiscriminately at a concert after the interment of the deceased in the town.

However, when contacted, Ikenga Tochukwu, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Anambra State, told The Punch to send a text message (SMS) to his mobile phone line regarding its inquiry on the matter.

How was quoted to have said, “I will respond,” but his response never was as of the time of filing the report as subsequent calls to his line rang out.

Likewise, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Spokesman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in his comment on the agency’s likely going after the Naira abusers at Obi Cubana’s funeral, said the country’s anti-graft agency would not disclose its plans on the sensational matter.

He, nonetheless, stated in a telephone interview that “we do not give out the plans of the Commission.”

Meanwhile, several Nigerians are still divided over the spraying of the national currency, Naira at the said burial ceremony, in terms of its acceptability and otherwise, according to report.

Adamu Garba, technology and financial expert, said that there was the need for the CBN to increase the tempo of advocacy and sensitisation campaign through its Clean Notes Policy.

Garba said: “In as much as we wish the late mother of Obi Cubana a blissful paradise rest, it is important for us to also value our currency because as much as you try to throw currency all over by marching it, you are showing less value for the currency.

“There is a civil way of giving out money in celebration, and the best way to do that is to hand over money in a very tidy way so as to value the currency that is also running the value of your country’s economy.”

‘Obi Cubana doesn’t control the crowd at the burial event’

The technology and financial expert stated: “We should look at the mood. Trying to point finger at Obi Cubana as the person the CBN should hold responsible might not be justified. Why?

“Because he doesn’t control the crowd that was there; some of the people there were visibly and happily drunk and were spraying money and you cannot control them.

He further contended that “except if CBN is going to look at the videos, pinpoint them and make them accountable individually.

“But I think the CBN should spend more money enlightening the people on the value of the Naira than using a prosecutorial tone.”

CBN should focus on terrorism financing, armed banditry activities ─HURIWA  

Emmanuel Onwubuko, National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a civic advocacy organisation, in the group’s comment contained in a statement Monday, July 19, 2021, said the spraying of Naira at Obi Cubana’s event should not constitute a major talking point.

HURIWA maintained that there have been countless of high societal functions where the Naira was also abused in the past.

The statement said: “The fact that friends and well-wishers who attended the event decided to show appreciation to Mr. Obi Cubana, we in the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, think it should not become the talking point.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria under the current dispensation should rather be tasked by the media to confront the much more disturbing issue of how terrorism is funded and how armed kidnappers made up of Fulani militia in the North carry out their terrorism-related activities.”

Osita Nwanisobi, Acting Director of Corporate Communications Department at CBN, commenting on abuse of the Nigerian currency, rather diplomatically pushed the prosecution of Naira abusers to law enforcement agents, report noted.

When The Punch specifically asked whether the CBN would prosecute Naira abusers at Obi Cubana’s party, in line with its stated partnership with security agencies to effect arrest and prosecution of Naira abusers in the country, Nwanisobi was reported to have replied: “Who arrest and who does the prosecution?”

Activist Deji Adeyanju as well stressed that the display of wealth by Obi Cubana and his guests were capable of luring young people to committing crimes, report said.

Adeyanju stated: “I do not know what they do, and I do not question the legitimacy or otherwise of their (Naira abusers’) income.

“However, societally, what they did is capable of instigating young people into crime because no matter how we look at it, we must do things within societal norms.”

Additional reporting by Alexander Davis

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