Nigerian bankers arrested in corruption crack-down

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/02/15, 04:03 pm

The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) arrested 21 bankers for stealing defaced currency worth more than six billion naira, more than $33 million.

“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to Naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency,” the EFCC said in a statement.

The arrested bankers include senior executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria and officers from eight Nigerian commercial banks who helped put the money back in circulation.

Olu Ajakaiye, president of the Nigerian Economic Society, said the nature of the scandal made it hard to uncover: “If there’s a conspiracy between commercial banks and the Central Bank, it’s always difficult to detect the fraud very quickly.”

The EFCC received a petition to look into the case in November and made the arrests shortly before the swearing-in of the country’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to fight corruption.

“The inspiration on the part of the EFCC to take this action might have been boosted by the arrival of the new government, but one can’t say what could have happened if he didn’t come in,” Ajakaiye said.

The bankers will remain in prison until their bail hearing on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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