By G9ija

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has applauded the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria to redesign and reissue higher denominations of the Nigerian currency, the Naira.

The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, announced the move by the apex bank on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the bank had obtained the approval of the Federal Executive Council to redesign and issue new N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.

According to Emefiele, the new notes will come into circulation by December 15, 2022, while the old notes will no longer be accepted after January 31, 2023.

The Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, hailed the move as “a well-considered and timely response” to the challenges of currency management in the country.

Bawa said in a statement issued by Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s spokesperson, on Wednesday in Abuja, that the challenges of currency management has negatively impacted the country’s monetary policy and security imperatives.

He said: “The EFCC, the CBN and some other regulators in the financial sector have worked closely in the recent past to determine how best to stabilise the country’s monetary policy environment.

“It is heart-warming that the CBN has demonstrated courage in taking this bold decision which I believe will bring sanity to the currency management situation in Nigeria.”

Bawa called on operators in the Nigerian financial services sector, especially deposit money banks and bureau de change operators, to work within the guidelines provided by the CBN to ensure seamless withdrawal of the old currency.

He warned that the EFCC would monitor the process to ensure that unscrupulous players and currency speculators and their cohorts among the BDCs do not undermine the exercise.

The EFCC Chairman also charged banks to be alive to their reporting obligations and not assist unscrupulous customers in laundering proceeds of crimes through their system.

Bawa pointed out that the objectives of the CBN’s currency redesign and re-issuance were in tandem with the provision of the Money Laundering Prevention Prohibition Act 2022.

The Act criminalises the conduct of cash transactions above a certain threshold.

Section 2 (1) of the Act states: “No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding N5,000,000 or its equivalent in the case of an individual or N10,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of a body corporate.”

The EFCC boss expressed optimism that the new currency measure would encourage more Nigerians to embrace banking culture and acceptance of cashless transactions.

Bawa recalled that the EFCC recently took operational action against currency hoarders in major commercial cities of Nigeria.

He added: “It is therefore pertinent to issue this stern warning to Bureau de Change operators to be wary of currency hoarders who would attempt to seize this opportunity to offload the currencies they had illegally stashed away.”

He noted that currency hoarders readily made their hoard available to criminal enterprise.

Bawa, therefore, said that the commission would spare no effort in bringing to book any financial services operator who runs foul of extant laws and regulations.