As Court Okays Arrest of Naira Abusers

The recent conviction of an actress, Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court marks a significant step forward in the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to curb the inappropriate culture of spraying and stepping on naira notes during social functions in the country.

Omoseyin was arrested by the Lagos Zonal Command of EFCC after she was caught on video spraying money at an occasion.

At the time of the offence, there was a severe scarcity of naira notes due to the Central Bank’s withdrawal of old 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes from circulation, replacing them with newly designed versions that were difficult to obtain. 

She was later arraigned on February 13, 2023, on a two-count charge, to which she pleaded “not guilty” and was subsequently granted bail on February 15, 2023.

Later she changed her “not guilty” plea to “guilty.” Following her guilty plea, Justice Aneke accordingly sentenced the defendant to six months in jail, with the option to pay a fine of N300,000. The judge said the amount should be paid into the Federation’s Consolidated revenue account.

In Nigeria, spraying of naira notes at social events is rampant. But despite the legal provision criminalising such action, relevant security agencies always look the other way when these offences are committed.

For instance, Section 21(3) of the CBN Act 2007 (as amended) clearly stipulates that spraying or matching on the naira during social occasions or otherwise shall constitute an abuse punishable under subsection (1).

However, at social functions, politicians, celebrities and captains of industry are seen contravening the law with impunity.

Even sub-section (1) also states that it is an offence for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the naira notes, but such practice is rampant on the streets and parties, with many hawking naira with complete impunity.

Recently, a viral video depicted a traditional ruler adorning a popular Fuji musician with knitted N1,000 notes fashioned into a long piece of jewellery at an event, yet no arrests were made.

With the EFCC’s commencement of legal proceedings against Omoseyin, there’s optimism that they will diligently pursue similar cases to effectively address this societal issue.

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