The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has discovered N258 million stashed in the vaults of Sterling Bank, amid the ongoing Naira scarcity in the country.
In a related development, Zenith Bank has closed most of its branches nationwide, as staff fear being beaten up by angry customers.
In a viral video, Zenith Bank staff can be seen scaling fences from one of the bank’s branches in Delta State, as they engineer their escape. The bank has been one of the worst performers–electronically, at the ATMs and across the counter–since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) imposed a deadline for currency swap.
Azuka Oguagua, spokesperson of the anti-graft agency, in a statement on Tuesday night, said the money, all new Naira notes, was found in the vault of the Abuja head office of Sterling Bank.
“Operatives of ICPC discovered the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight Million Naira (N258m) stashed in the vault at the head office of Sterling Bank in Abuja,” she said.
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According to Oguagua, investigation showed that the money was released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for distribution.
The team however found out that only the sum of N5 million each was distributed to their various branches.
“Both the Regional and Service managers were arrested and later granted administrative bail while investigation continues,” she said.
The spokesperson added that the Commission has also effected the arrest of the Head of Operations, Keystone Bank, Mararaba in Nasarawa State, for frustrating its customers at getting the new Naira notes.
She said the ICPC team, while on its routine operation, found out that the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at the branch were not dispensing to its customers, while other bank customers were accessing only One Thousand Naira each.
“It was only after the arrest was made and clarification received from CBN that the position of the officers of the Bank was not correct, that the ATMs started dispensing Five Thousand Naira to non-customers and Ten Thousand Naira to its customers,” she said.
Oguagua added that the team also arrested one Abdulkareem Shaibu, a security guard with Zenith Bank, 3rd Avenue Gwarimpa, as well as Ali Adam and Shafiu Umar.
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While Shaibu, the security guard, was arrested for being in possession of five ATM cards which he was using to collect money for different unknown persons who were not within the Bank premises at the time, Adam and Umar were arrested in front of Zenith Bank, 1st Avenue Gwarimpa, for selling the new Naira notes.
While announcing a new deadline for the circulation of old Naira notes, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele had said the apex back was being sabotaged.
He had expressed disappointment with commercial banks, saying the new notes were being hoarded.
He also disclosed that the bank had enlisted the services of anti-graft agencies to checkmate saboteurs.
A frustrated President Buhari has also blamed selfish bankers for the banknotes scarcity.
The new Naira scarcity has sparked violent protests across the country, with some bank buildings and facilities getting vandalised as a consequence, few days before voters head to polls to elect a new President, Governors and members of parliament.
Different discoveries have been made by the anti-graft agencies during the cash crunch crisis.
Anti-corruption agencies EFCC and ICPC have been effecting arrests of top bank officials across the country.