Nigeria: Man Convicted for Illegally Hawking Naira: Insights and Cautionary Tale

Nigeria: Man Convicted for Illegally Hawking Naira: Insights and Cautionary Tale

By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria

In a recent judicial development, the Lagos Federal High Court has ruled on a case involving the illegal hawking of Nigerian currency, sentencing one Fabian John Itafor for his involvement in the illicit activity. The verdict, handed down by Justice Kehinde Olayiwola Ogundare, underscores the seriousness with which such offenses are treated in Nigeria’s legal system.

Fabian John Itafor found himself in legal jeopardy after being apprehended on February 24, 2024, at Leisure Event Center on Wale Olateju Street, Victoria Island. Itafor was discovered engaged in the unlawful act of hawking new Naira notes, an offense that contravenes Section 21(4) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007.

During his arrest, authorities found Itafor in possession of N347,000.00 in Naira, along with $1 and £50 in foreign currency. These findings further reinforced the severity of his violation of currency regulations, prompting swift legal action by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Facing a count-charge brought against him by the EFCC, Itafor pleaded guilty before the court, acknowledging his involvement in the illicit activity. The prosecutor, Abubakar S. Wara, pressed for a fitting penalty in accordance with the law, emphasizing the gravity of Itafor’s offense.

Despite Itafor’s plea for leniency, citing his status as a first-time offender, the court, under Justice Ogundare’s jurisdiction, delivered a verdict commensurate with the seriousness of the crime. Itafor was sentenced to three months of community service, accompanied by a fine of N50,000.00 in lieu of custodial imprisonment.

In addition to the imposed sentence, Justice Ogundare ordered the forfeiture of Itafor’s POS machine, along with the seized sums of Naira and foreign currency, to the federal government. This measure serves as a deterrent to others contemplating similar illegal activities, reaffirming the commitment of the judiciary to uphold the integrity of Nigeria’s financial regulations.

This case serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the consequences individuals face when they engage in the unlawful circulation of currency. It underscores the importance of adhering to established legal frameworks and regulations governing financial transactions, thereby safeguarding the stability and integrity of the nation’s monetary system.

As Nigeria continues its efforts to combat financial crimes and promote economic stability, it is imperative for citizens to remain vigilant and compliant with relevant laws and regulations. Through collective adherence to legal standards, individuals contribute to a more secure and prosperous financial environment for all.

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