The Human Rights Writers Associations of Nigeria, HURIWA, has asked Godwin Emefele the Governor of CBN to order the arrests of the controversial Prophet Chukwuemeka Ohanaemere, also known as Odumeje.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria accuses the self-acclaimed prophet of serials abuses of the Nigerian Nairas and other currencies during his public ceremony at his location in Onitsha.
HURIWA group said it has resolved to write officially to the Honourable Minister of Finance, the Government of the CBN of Nigeria, and President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the order to stand up and defend the Naira.
The rights group noted that Odumeje, who also calls himself many other names, has significantly contributed to bringing global opprobrium to our national currencies and has indicated the federal governments as unwilling to defend the Nairas even when the constitution recognizes that the law is no respecter of persons or authorities.
The group, in the statement that was signed by Emmanuel Onwubiko the National Coordinators, said “We have watched with disappointments as this self-professed prophet Odumuje keeps abusing and defacing the national currency and both the police and the Central Bank of Nigeria have failed for many Months to stamp their authorities and prosecute these serial abusers of the national currency.
“We recall that in 2018 the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) organised a ‘CBN FAIR’ in Calabar where it used the opportunity to create awareness and sensitise the public on the ‘appropriate use’ of the Naira, Nigeria’s legal tender notes.
“CBN, also ‘cautioned Nigerians against abusing the Naira notes, warning that anyone caught would risk six months imprisonment or pay a fine of N50,000.,’
HURIWA agrees with an observer who wrote that the unwholesome practice of hawking, spraying of, dancing and matching on notes at social events significantly fuel the abuse and degradation of the notes. HURIWA similarly endorses the position that the effect of these is that within a short time of issuance of mint notes by the CBN, the notes become an eye-sore and if not quickly withdrawn and reprinted, a national disgrace and embarrassment ensues.
HURIWA recalled that according to Section 21(3) of CBN Act 2007 “spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank (CBN) during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under Sub-section 1 of this section.”
The same body of law, in Section 5 (i) went further to affirm as follows: “Matching” to include “spreading, scattering or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent” while in 5(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 Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent. Specifically, In Section 21(4), it is also a punishable offence for “any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank.”
HURIWA recalled that the stated offences above are punishable under Sub-section 21(1) which provides, among other things that, a person ‘shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment.’
HURIWA added, “We ask the CBN to ensure that the legal provisions that should have protected the Naira notes from abuse which are today being observed more in the breach than in compliance should be reversed.
“It is true as observed recently by a patriotic citizen that quite disappointingly, CBN and the security agencies have had their eyes glue-closed while the nation and its inhabitants suffer from preventable abuses of the national currency.
“Just as we reaffirm and reecho the fact as stated by an observer that as it were, the law against abuse of Naira has been in place for over a decade, yet the CBN is still at the stage of ‘awareness creation’ and ‘sensitisation’ of the citizens whereas religious houses are openly celebrating the abuses of the National currency which is a legal tender that ought to be respected by the citizens and everyone in Nigeria.
“This unfortunate trend of inertia and inaction by the CBN should be changed immediately. What other better way to do this than to use the Onitsha based religious comedian and self-acclaimed prophet Mr. ODUMEJE as an example for others to stop abusing the Naira?”
HURIWA said it has decided to approach President Muhammadu Buhari to charge him to compel all relevant agencies of government to begin the strict enforcement of the law.
“HURIWA recalls that the Central Bank of Nigeria had recently warned Nigerians against abusing the naira notes. The apex bank said that anyone caught abusing the Naira would be prosecuted and if convicted the person risked six months in jail and a fine of N50, 000.
“An official of the Currency Operation Department of the CBN in Abuja, Mr. Samuel Shuaibu, disclosed this in Calabar, Cross River State, during the commencement of a ‘CBN Fair’ to sensitise campaign for residents in the state on the appropriate use of the naira”.
HURIWA, has, therefore, asked the CBN to take action rather than continue in propaganda and the impression that the bank is working to protect the integrity of the national currency.