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CBN Bars Abuja, Lagos PoS Operators From Cash Swap Programme

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has excluded mobile money/Point of Sales agents in Abuja and Lagos from its newly launched cash swap programme.

The development came as the January 31 deadline for the phasing out of the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes approaches.

In a Frequently Asked Questions document released to selected agents and obtained by our correspondent on Monday, the CBN provided some guidelines for the cash swap programme.

According to the document, only five banks have been approved to engage in the programme. They are: Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, and First City Monument Bank.

It read in part, “Not all agents can participate. This is open to only selected agents profiled by the super agent/MMO/bank and submitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria and participating banks (Access, Zenith, UBA, First, FCMB).”

On the number of states selected for the programme, it read, “Selected agents in all the 36 states (except Lagos state and FCT, Abuja). Lagos and Abuja agents are excluded from this.”

It was gathered that the agents are restricted from using the new notes for their regular transactions, only for the programme.

On where the agents can get the new notes, the document added, “from one of these designated banks (Zenith, First Bank, Access, UBA, FCMB). However, you must have a bank account with that bank and your operators (super agent/MMO/bank) will have pre-registered you with the bank where you have an account.”

It added, “you must go to the bank you have informed operator (super agent/MMO/bank) of. That is where your agent details will be submitted to for verification when you get there to collect the new notes.”

Also, each agent’s name, BVN number, and operator’s name are required before the new notes will be released.

The document added that the bank would also verify the agent’s picture and finger print.

The document also noted that an agent is expected to have a record of the customer’s Know-Your-Customer information, which includes name, phone number, bank, account number and amount.

It was also noted that why there is no restriction on how much a customer can deposit, only N10,000 can be released per customer under the cash swap programme.

The CBN also urged the agents to open a bank account or wallet for customers with bank accounts.

It was also gathered that an agent can only get up to N500,000 new notes weekly for the programme.

Also, each agent is expected to record all transactions performed with the new notes and submit the record to the operator (super agent/MMO/bank).

CBN threatens sanction

Regarding what happens if an agent uses the new notes for other purposes other than the new naira initiative, the document noted, “There will be severe sanctions such as de-listing as an agent, withhold of any applicable benefit, de-list from future programmes, negative report to bank & CBN and other such penalties as directed by regulatory authorities.”

In a memo by Moniepoint to their agents, agents were asked to collect BVN, NIN, or voter’s card details from customers paid new notes.

The memo read in part, “The Swap should be in the form of PoS withdrawals only of not more than N10,000 per person. Any withdrawal more than N10,000 per person should not be paid with new notes.

“Agents are also permitted to charge cash-out fees for the cash swap transactions but prohibited from charging any further commissions to customers for this service.

“You are to collect BVN, NIN or votes card details from customers paid with new notes for weekly submissions to the CBN.

“The CBN will continue to monitor implementation of the programme and provide further guidance as may be necessary.”

The National President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Mr Victor Olojo, told our correspondent that a proposed meeting with the CBN did not hold.

He further noted that the agents were still actively involved in the process and a framework had been provided to guide the programme.

The CBN when announcing the cash swap programme which began on Monday, noted that the initiative was aimed at enabling citizens in rural areas or those with limited access to formal financial services to exchange old naira notes for the redesigned notes. To promote financial inclusion, the CBN said the service was also available to anybody without a bank account.

It said agents might, on request, instantly open a wallet or account, leveraging the CBN tiered know your customer framework. This, according to the bank, will ensure that this category of the populace (unbanked citizens) is able to exchange or deposit their cash seamlessly without taking unnecessary risks or incurring undue costs.

The CBN also directed agents to sensitise customers to opening wallets/bank accounts and the various channels for conducting electronic transactions.

PoS agents

A PoS agent (name withheld), who reached out to the executive members of the AMMBAN, noted that PoS agents were risking their lives in Kebbi to circulate the new notes.

He said, “Here in Kebbi State, the new notes are only in circulation within the Birnin Kebbi the state capital, and agents are doing their best to mop up the old notes, taking the risk of traveling with huge cash from rural areas to the state capital as most of the banks in Kebbi State has only one branch in the state capital while the few banks exist in the selected local governments are over-crowded.”

The AMMBAN president had earlier said that the issue of insecurity would likely affect the operations of some PoS agents, noting that some measures were also in place to safeguard the agents and the cash.

 

Credit: The Punch

BIG STORY

Court Restrains CBN From Extending Deadline On Use Of Old Naira Notes

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A federal capital territory (FCT) high court has compelled the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to go ahead with the full implementation of the naira redesign policy.

Delivering a ruling on Monday in a suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2234/2023, the court restrained the CBN from extending the deadline on the use of old naira notes.

The CBN, President Muhammadu Buhari, and several banks were included as defendants in the suit.

Eleojo Enenche, the judge of the FCT high court, ordered the CBN not to extend the deadline pending the determination of the suit.

“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the defendants whether by themselves, staff, agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever not to suspend, stop, extend, vary or interfere with the extant termination date of use of the old N200, N500, and N1000 bank note being 10th day of February 2023, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice,” the court held.

The judge also made an order of interim injunction “directing and mandating the defendants whether by themselves, staff, agents, officers, interfacing banks or whosoever described to comply with, implement and give effect to the currency redesign and restructuring of the old N200, N500, and N1000 bank note on or before the last day of 10th of February, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice”.

The court further directed the bank heads, chief executive officers, managing directors, and/or alter egos “to forthwith show cause as to why they shall not be arrested and prosecuted for the economic and financial sabotage of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by their illegal act of hoarding, withholding, nor paying or disbursing the new N200, N500, and N1000 bank note, being the legal tender of the federal republic of Nigeria to their respective customers, despite supplies of each such currency note by the 2nd and 3rd defendants, thereby leading to the present scarcity of currency notes in circulation”.

The order will be for an initial period of seven days until the motion of notice is heard on February 14.

The plaintiffs are Action Alliance (AA), Action Peoples Party (APP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and National Rescue Movement (NRM).

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: Court Jails Fidelity Bank MD, Onyeali-Ikpe, Bank’s Secretary

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A Chief Magistrate Court at Ogba, Lagos on Monday morning sentenced the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nneka Chinwe Onyeali-Ikpe to six weeks imprisonment over disobedience of a garnishee order of court restraining the bank from allowing a judgment debtor access to his account.

Joined with the Managing Director to serve the imprisonment is the Company Secretary of the bank, Ezinwa Unuigboje.

Magistrate Lateef Owolabi gave the sentence sequel to a garnishee order he gave on December 6, 2022 asking 16 banks not to allow a judgment debtor, Prince Enabulele Ozaze access to his bank accounts pending the payment of N2.8 million judgment debt in suit involving the sale of a Toyota Corolla car.

In the main suit, Magistrate Owolabi had given judgment on October 13, 2022 in favour of the plaintiff, Jibrin Ahmed who sued the defendant over the payment of N2.8 million he made to the defendant for the purchase of a Toyota Corolla car. Magistrate Owolabi in the judgment said that the claim before the court is summons used in action for debt or liquidated money demand with or without interest. Liquidated demand, according to him, is one ascertainable as a matter of arithmetic precision without further investigation.

He then said: “I have examined the whole process filed by the claimant and hold that the claimant is entitled to judgment not necessarily because the defendant is absent, but because the claimant has made a case worthy of being entitled to judgment. The totalities of evidence presented are relevant and reliable”.

There magistrate thereafter entered judgment against the defendant in the sum of N2.8 million which is due to the claimant over the transaction that took place in July 2022.

In order to reap the fruit of the judgment, the claimant’s lawyer, Alayo Akanbi filed a garnishe proceeding before the court and attached 17 banks, and asked the court to stop the banks from allowing the defendant to draw money from his accounts with them pending the liquidation of the debt. The garnishe order was granted on December 6, 2022.

However, on January 25, 2023, the claimant, now judgment creditor deposed to an affidavit before the court where he showed that the garnishe order have been flouted by Fidelity bank. He showed instances of how the judgment debtor had been withdrawing funds from his account to the extent that he had depleted the funds in his account with Fidelity bank. He claimed that the judgment debtor has N3, 165, 759.05k in his account with Fidelity bank as at January 12, 2023 when the garnishe order was served on the bank.

By January 15, three days after service, the judgment debtor had withdrawn N725,547.80k from the account. The following day, January 16, 2023, another N251,305.90 was transferred out of the bank. On January 17, the legal officer of the bank Obianuju Nwosu confirmed service on the bank as at December 22, 2022 and further apologized for the transactions on the account.

On January 18, 2023, the court ordered that ordered that the Managing Director, and Company Secretary to appear in person before the court to explain why they should not be committed to prison for allowing the judgment debtor to dissipate the funds in his account after the service of the garnishe order nisi.

At proceeding on Monday February 6, the Managing Director and Company were not in court as ordered. Lawyer to the judgment creditor told the court how the two had disobeyed the garnishe order of the court.

Magistrate Owolabi in his ruling sentenced the Managing Director and Company Secretary to six weeks imprisonment each. He further ordered Lagos State Commissioner of Police and any officer under his command to arrest the duo, bring them to court for onward transfer to the appropriate correctional center.

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: EFCC Chairman, Bawa Sent To Prison For Disobeying Court Order

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been committed to prison for disobeying court order.

The court also directed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Baba Usman Alkali, to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje prison for the next 14 days until he purges himself of the contempt.

Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for committal to prison of the EFCC chairman for disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.

The EFCC’s applications for setting aside and stay of execution of the ruling were refused for want of merit.

The Court had, in Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked: “HCL/697M/2022” and titled: “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” asked the EFCC Chairman to appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.

The court ordered that EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.

The court had declared the arrest and detention of the applicant in the face of a subsisting court order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in contravention of the personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The court had also ordered the respondents to tender an apology to the applicant in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation for him.

The Form 49, issued on December 15, 2022, and addressed to Bawa read, “Take notice that the Applicant will on the 18th day of January, 2023 at the hour of 9 o clock in the forenoon or so soon thereafter, apply to this Court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of this Court made on 12th day of December, 2022 that:

“That arrest and detention of the Applicant on the 29th November, 2022 by the 1st and 2nd Respondents in the face of a subsisting Court Order made by a Court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested is unlawful, unconstitutional and contravenes the Applicant’s right to personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“Perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents, their agents, servants, privies, or however called from further arrest, detention, harassment and intimidation of the Applicant.

“An order directing the Respondents to tender an apology to the Applicant in any of the National Daily having nationwide coverage for the illegal detention and harassment of the Applicant.

“An Award of the sum of Ten Million Naira as general damages jointly and severally against the Respondents for the unlawful detention and harassment of the Applicant.”

This followed an application by Counsel to Ali Bello, S. A. Abass.

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