Politicians with billions in cash berate Naira redesign

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Indications have emerged that politicians who stashed billions of Naira outside the banking system to prosecute the 2023 general election have moved against the planned reintroduction and redesign of Nigeria’s currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Thisday reported.

These politicians, it was learnt, have mobilised the National Assembly to pass a resolution against the Naira redesign as several lawmakers may have stockpiled cash for the 2023 general election.

On October 26, 2022, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had announced the plan to redesign the Naira to control the money supply.The redesigned notes include N200, N500 and N1,000.According to the apex bank, new N200, N500, and N1,000 notes will go into circulation from December 15, while the current notes will cease to be legal tender by January 31, 2023.

This monetary tool aimed at fighting corruption, checkmating money laundering, eliminating counterfeits, and ending the hoarding of the Naira by kidnappers and others, has thrown politicians who stashed billions of the Nigerian currency ahead of the 2023 general election into confusion.It is estimated that about 84 per cent of the N12.73 trillion in circulation is outside the banking system, precisely in the hands of corrupt politicians, kidnappers, traders and criminal elements.These elements, who do not bank their funds, are involved in money laundering and currency round-tripping using the black market as the alternative foreign exchange window.

Investigation revealed that many of the politicians who have perfected plans of rigging next year’s election through vote-buying and had stock-pilled the Naira in their houses, offices and other hidden places, have perfected plans to ambush this apex bank’s initiative, which has received accolades from President Muhammadu Buhari and financial and economic experts.

These politicians who feared that they might not return billions of Naira into the banking system within the three months – November 2022 to January 2023 specified by the CBN without breaching the Money Laundering Act and attracting the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), are mobilising some members of the National Assembly to pass a resolution against the Naira redesign.

Multiple sources close to the federal lawmakers said last night that these politicians want the National Assembly to pass a resolution directing the CBN to shift the Naira redesign till after the 2023 general election.

“These politicians are believed to have kept large amounts of cash in their houses and other hidden places and they believe that three months will be too short for them to return these funds to the banks without being indicted by the EFCC for money laundering and other related crimes,” one of the sources told ThisDay.

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