Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Mint Scandal - N2.1 Billion Worth of N1,000 Notes Missing

The board of directors of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) met yesterday over the scandal that rocked the establishment where it was revealed that a whopping N2.1 billion of newly printed N1,000 notes have mysteriously gone missing.

The board meeting, chaired by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, decided to expand the investigation and audit the production of other currency denominations to ascertain the quantity of money that has actually gone missing over the years.

LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported that an acting managing director, Ahmed Bamali, had been appointed to head the Mint company while Ehi Okomoyon, who was the chief executive, was asked to proceed on indefinite leave.

A source with insider knowledge of what transpired at the meeting told LEADERSHIP that the suspension of Okoyomon as managing director on an indefinite basis until all investigations have been concluded was reaffirmed.

The head of security at the NSPMC, Emmanuel Bala, has also been asked to go on compulsory leave by the board of directors of the company. The general manager, management services, Obi Igoban is expected to write him the letter of suspension today.

LEADERSHIP also gathered that the board faulted the suspended MD for failing to disclose to it that such amounts of money had gone missing even though the company had set up an internal investigation after a mint staff was arrested in Lagos for being in possession of unnumbered bank notes.

The board meeting, which reportedly started at about 10am, did not end until 3pm. Other than the initial audit report, the board also discussed routine and budgetary issues.

The CBN had to set up its own audit team, whose findings were put to the board yesterday, and a unanimous vote affirmed that Okoyomon should continue on indefinite suspension.

Part of the CBN audit team's investigation is to unravel why the management of the Mint company has consistently refused to place Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) in its Abuja and Lagos factories, and why other security measures were deliberately set aside.

The audit team had, however, established that the theft of printed bank notes could be traced to security lapses and security personnel who take custody of newly printed bank notes, and when there were shortages, they were never reprimanded. The entire security department is said to be directly under the supervision of MD.

LEADERSHIP also learnt that this would be the second time that Okoyomon would be going on suspension as he suffered a similar experience in 2007 for three months when Charles Soludo, who had appointed him in the first place, was CBN governor.

After seven and a half years on the job, Okoyomon has been the longest serving MD of the NSPMC, with previous chief executives spending an average of five years in office.

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