The Police Command in Edo State yesterday arrested seven people in connection to alleged engagement in the illegal sale of the Nigerian currency.
The suspects comprising two females and five males were reported to have been remanded in different locations within the Benin metropolis.
The Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, said over N12.8m was recovered from the suspects.
Kokumo also informed the media an investigation has been launched to uncover the identities of the bank officials who were co-conspirators with the suspects.
He listed the suspects as Franklin Izukwu, Bright Mugbeyoghe, Obi Alex, Elvis Iyomana, Osazee Osagede, Victoria Igbinos and Deborah Uwa.
The commissioner reiterated the arrest was in line with the presidential order prohibiting the illicit sale of the Nigerian legal tender, as contained in Sections 20 and 21 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act No. 7, 2007, which also prescribed an imprisonment term not less than six months, a fine not less than N50,000 or both.
“In carrying out this order, on November 8, 2018, the Nigeria Police, Edo State Command and the Department of State Services, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria in Benin, engaged in a sting operation aimed at forestalling illicit sales of the country’s currency notes.
“The clampdown on the naira note vendors is a continuous exercise until the offenders are completely wiped out from the system,” he added.
One of suspects, Izukwu, told the press he had been in the business of currency dealing for five years.
According to him, while the N200 and N100 notes were purchased from commercial banks in Lagos and Abuja and parcelled as newspapers to Benin, the polymer notes were sold to him by banks in Benin.
The 25-year-old suspect said, “Sometimes, they (currencies) come as parcels. We do not collect them with police escorts. They are packaged in cartons or sacs and we label them as newspapers.”
However, Kokumo said that the suspects would be charged to court at the end of the investigation.
He also warned those engaged in the unlawful trade to desist from the crime.