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Obi Cubana: Reactions as CBN fails to enforce anti-money spraying law

There has been Mixed reactions trailing the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria and security agencies to enforce the country’s anti-spraying law and prosecute Naira abusers, especially at the recent luxurious funeral of the mother of the Chairman of Cubana Group, Obi Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana. This is barely as the apex bank said security agencies were responsible for the arrest and the prosecution of Naira abusers. It is worrisome that the Nigeria Police Force and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission remained mute on the matter.

According to the CBN Act, 2007 Section 21, a person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the apex bank risks imprisonment for a term not less than six months or a fine not less than N50,000 or both.

The CBN has stressed that abusers of the naira would be punished in line with the CBN Act 2007. For example, on October 5, 2018, the then CBN spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, said mobile courts would be deployed nationwide to enforce the law. He further stressed that the police and officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice would be involved in the monitoring and enforcement of the law.

“If a celebrant is dancing and you spray him/her, you may go to jail from the party venue, because the law enforcement agents will be there, waiting to arrest you.

“It is the duty of the law enforcement agencies to seize offenders and take them to court. Our (CBN) collaboration with the police will intensify as we move to implement the mobile court for offenders,” Okorafor reportedly said in a statement published by the News Agency of Nigeria.

Similarly, on June 10, 2021, an Assistant Director at the Currency Operations Department of the apex bank, Aladeen Badajo, warned at a two-day sensitisation fair held in Abeokuta that abusers of naira risk six-month jail term, according to the CBN Act 2007.

“(3) For the avoidance of doubt, spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section.”

Sub-section 5 of Section 21 of the Act clarified, “(i) ‘Matching’ includes spreading scattering or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent.

“(ii) ‘Spraying’ includes adorning, decorating or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of the Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.”

For days, Obi Cubana has been a social media phenomenon with the ‘naira rain’ at the event in Oba, a town in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Several videos went viral that show celebrities, businesspeople and politicians spray money indiscriminately during a concert held after the interment of the deceased.

The 46-year-old was seen displaying his football skills while one of the personalities threw chunk of cash at him. He literally turned bales of naira to round leather as he kicked and chested it. Veteran actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo, amongst scores of celebrities was also seen spraying mint notes on Obi Cubana who took satisfaction in the melodious rhythm emitting from the background.

The splashy display of wealth by those who graced the event has overwhelmed social discourse since last Thursday, July 15, 2021 when the funeral started with a service of songs and Christian wake, followed by the burial and reception the next day at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Oba Anambra. The chain of events ended with a thanksgiving service on Sunday, July 18, 2021 at the Good Shepherd Anglican Church, also in Oba.

Celebrities who were physically present at the funeral included musicians D’Banj and Phyno, among others. Popstar, Davido, Kenneth Okonkwo (Kcee), Emeka Okonkwo (E-Money), Poco Lee and Ubi Franklin. Nollywood actors Williams Uchemba and Alexx Ekubo were also at the event. A member of the House of Representatives and Club Quillox’s proprietor, Shina Peller, amongst other as politicians were also not excluded.

The CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Osita Nwanisobi, diplomatically pushed the prosecution of naira abusers to law enforcement agents when contacted

When particularly asked whether the CBN would prosecute naira abusers at Obi Cubana’s party, the spokesman replied with a question. “Who arrest and who does the prosecution?”

Meanwhile, the Anambra State Police Command and other relevant agencies have kept mute on whether or not it would arrest and prosecute naira abusers at Obi Cubana’s mother’s funeral last weekend.

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