NBA faults EFCC prosecution of naira abusers

The Lagos and Ikeja branches of the  Nigerian Bar Association have faulted the prosecution of naira abusers by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Olabisi Makanjuola, chairman of the NBA, Lagos branch, expressed his displeasure with the EFCC’s handling of naira abuse cases.

He said, “The EFCC doesn’t have the power to prosecute the offence of naira abuse. This is because by virtue of Section 46 of the EFCC Act 2004, abuse of naira is not listed as one of the offences that fall under Economic and financial crime which the Commission can prosecute.”

The NBA chief elucidated on EFCC powers and crimes it can prosecute.

He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, section 46 of the EFCC Act defines economic and financial crime to mean the non-violent criminal and illegal activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth illegally or in a group or organized manner thereby violating existing legislation governing the economic activities of government and its administration.”

Some of the crimes include fraud, narcotic drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, looting, illegal arms dealing, smuggling, among others.

Makanjuola averred that “Naira abuse cannot be committed with the objective of earning wealth illegally or in an organised manner.” He cited a legal authority in the case of Nwobike v. FRN (2021) LPELR-56670(SC), in which the Supreme Court restricted the anti-graft agency only to its constitutionally-stipulated powers.

In a similar vein, Oluseyi Olawumi, chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, equally faulted the EFCC’s handling of such matters.

“I think it is the Nigeria police” who has the power to do so, Olawunwi said in a media inquiry from Punch.

He added: “But if you look at most of the things that they (EFCC) have done, they have taken over even some of the powers of the police, to delve into matters for which they were not created because the Act that created them is specific as to what they are supposed to do.”

The respondents unanimously hold the belief that abuse of naira does not constitute an economic or financial crime. The consensus opinion by both NBA leaders is that Naira abuse does not constitute an economic or financial crime.

TheCornet reports that abuse of naira is an offence under Section 21 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.

The section states: “A person who tampers with a Nigerian note, coin or any note issued by the Bank is guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a minimum of six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or both.”

In the opinion of those who faulted the EFCC,  only the police, as stated in Part IV, Section 66 of the Police Act, can prosecute a naira abuser.

The anti-graft agency has so far prosecuted two celebrities for naira abuse.

They are an actor, Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, who got a fine of N300,000 in lieu of a jail term and crossdresser Idris Okuneye, currently serving a six months jail term for the same offence.

Another celebrity recently arraigned by the EFCC for similar offence is Pascal Okechukwu, popularly known as Cubana chief priest.


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