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Naira Hoarding: ICPC uncovers N258m new notes in Sterling Bank, arrests managers, others

*The compliance monitoring team of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission makes more arrests of banks’ personnel for hoarding new Naira notes at the Sterling Bank Headquarters, Keystone, Zenith, and FCMB Banks, among others frustrating consumers in accessing their money

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In maintaining the tempo of ensuring that commercial banks comply with the policy objective of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in respect of the redesigned Naira notes, operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) February 3, 2023, discovered fresh N258 million new banknotes hidden in the vault at Sterling Bank Headquarters in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect reports the anti-graft agency’s move and subsequent discovery were sequel to ICPC’s continued operations across the country at ensuring that commercial banks and other interest groups comply with the CBN’s directive for consumers to access their money via Over the Counter (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or Point of Sale (PoS) terminals.

Consumers’ seemingly endless wait at banks’ ATM points

Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, Spokesperson of ICPC, who disclosed the development in a statement earlier this week, said when the ICPC monitoring team visited the bank and discovered the stashed new Naira notes in Sterling Bank’s vault, the operatives were told the new cash was the remnant of what the CBN had given the financial institution for onward distribution to its branches in Nigeria.

Ogugua also stated: “The team, however, found out that only the sum of N5 million each was distributed to their various branches.

“Both the Regional and Service managers were arrested and later granted administrative bail while investigation continues.”

Keystone, Zenith Banks join new Naira hoarding bandwagon

Likewise, the regulatory Commission has effected the arrest of the Head of Operations at Keystone Bank, in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, for frustrating its customers in accessing the redesigned banknotes.

‘Corporate brigandage’: FCMB hoarding new Naira notes, and fighting officers of regulatory bodies

It was gathered that the  ICPC compliance monitoring team, on its routine operation, detected that the ATMs at the bank’s Mararaba Branch were not dispensing cash to consumers, whereas other bank customers were accessing only N1000 notes.

It was only after the arrest was made and clarification received from the CBN that the position of the officers of the bank was not correct, and the ATMs started dispensing N5,000 to non-customers and N10,000 to the bank’s customers, said Ogugua.

According to the ICPC Spokesperson, the monitoring team also arrested certain Abdulkareem Shaibu, a security guard with Zenith Bank, 3rd Avenue Gwarimpa, in Abuja, as well as Ali Adam and Shafiu Umar.

The Commission further explained while Shaibu, the security guard, was arrested for being in possession of five ATM cards he was using to collect money for different unknown persons not present on the bank premises at the time, Adam and Umar, however, were arrested in front of Zenith Bank, 1st Avenue Gwarimpa, for selling the new Naira notes.

FCMB personnel in custody for assault on ICPC/CBN officers

Meanwhile, the two officials of the FCMB Ogo-Oluwa, in Osogbo, Osun State capital, have been detained for assault on officers of the ICPC and CBN Cash Swap Monitoring Team, according to report.

It is recalled that the ICPC operatives earlier caught the bank’s branch twice for loading freshly wrapped banknotes inside its ATMs to frustrate consumers.

Ogugua also stated: “The team, on a follow-up visit to ascertain the bank’s compliance level, was assaulted right inside the Branch Manager’s office by the bank officials, who vehemently refused to allow ICPC carry out its lawful duty, and then held hostage for about two hours.

“By the time the reinforcement of Police and NSCDC officers arrived the scene of the incident, the masterminds of the assaults had gone into hiding, leading to the arrest of two bank officers who were also complicit.”

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