Ransom worth N4.18bn among old notes expected back in banks

About N4.18 billion ransom paid to kidnappers in four years, is seen as a fraction of the currency outside banks that is expected to be returned within the new deadline, findings showed, using the data from SBM Intelligence, an Africa focused geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm.

According to a report by SBM Intelligence, between June 2011 and the end of March 2020, at least $18.34 million (N6.97bn at exchange rate of N380) was paid to kidnappers as ransom. Even more frightening is that the larger proportion of that figure (just below $11 million or N4.18bn), was paid out between January 2016 and March 2020, indicating that kidnapping is becoming more lucrative.

Available data at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) show that in 2015, Currency-in-Circulation was only NI.4 trillion. As of October 2022, currency in circulation rose to N3.23 trillion; out of which only N500 billion was within the banking system and N2.7 trillion held permanently in people’s homes.

The CBN on Sunday extended the deadline for the phase out of old naira notes by 10 days from January 31, 2023 to February 10, 2023.

Godwin Emefiele governor of the CBN said the new deadline is to allow collection of the about N900 billion old notes still outside the bank.

He said the sensitisation exercise on the redesigned naira carried across the country has achieved a success rate of over 75 percent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system.

“So far, and since the commencement of this programme, we have collected about N1.9 trillion leaving us with about N900 billion (N500 billion plus N1.9trilIion),” he said.

Media reports on Tuesday revealed that suspected members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) were distributing huge amounts of old notes to passengers in Borno State.

This happened after Mairari village, along the Maiduguri/Monguno highway on Saturday in Guzamala LGA of Borno State, where the ISWAP members were dressed in military camouflage and drove two gun trucks.

Bakura Ibrahim, a resident, who was quoted in the report, said the insurgents positioned themselves under a tree and stood by the roadside with bags of old naira notes.

Read also: Emefiele says ransom-taking, kidnapping slow after naira redesign

The report quoted Bakura as saying, “They stopped us and asked if we were going to Maiduguri, then they started giving each person N100,000 old notes, but we could not believe it. They gave each occupant of the Golf Volkswagen.”

Emefiele said last week that the new naira has slowed ransom-taking and kidnapping. While briefing journalists on the outcome of the two-day Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday last week, he said kidnapping and ransom-taking have reduced since the roll-out of the redesigned naira notes on December 15, 2023.

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