As the currency redesign policy continues to generate confusion across the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria has vowed to clamp down on Point of Sale owners, who have turned themselves to payment agents, to take advantage of members of the public.
The apex bank described such unaccredited payment agents as fifth columnists whose activities constituted economic sabotage, saying that it would carry out sting operations around the country this week to arrest and prosecute them.
The Director, Governor’s Department, CBN, Mr Joseph Omayuku, who stated these while briefing journalists in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Monday evening, said the sharp practices were discovered after reviews of the implementation of the policy.
He said that these PoS operators also engage in the selling of naira notes for naira notes to buyers amidst rejection of online payments by some business operators, including petrol stations and supermarkets.
Omayuku said, “Further reviews have indicated that it does appear as if there are fifth columnists operating in this system, and these fifth columnists, as it appears, are anybody that has PoS access. Several of them have now taken to the unfortunate activity of turning themselves to payment agents.
“So you find out that even next to petrol stations, their agents or PoS operators next to them are there who you will go to, to sell money to you and you take that money to go and buy petrol; and not just petrol stations, in short, everywhere.
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“From this week, there will be very sting operations around the country. Because this (selling of naira) is the incentive. The incentive is that they can sell our currency to us, which is not supposed to be. You cannot be selling naira to us.”
He said the CBN also frowned on the exorbitant commissions on transactions that payment agents collect from customers as against the approved charges, describing their activities as fraudulent.
Omayuku further said, “The operational arrangement for payment agents is that they take a commission for transaction and this commission is not more than N100 or N200 for transaction of up to N10,000. But we have heard of cases where people are being charged N1,000 or N2,000. This is certainly fraudulent; this is rogue operation.
“The management of the CBN and the leaders of the country do not subscribe to any logic that will allow people to operate like this. So, the security agencies will be very active this week, going forward.”
He warned those engaged in illegal practices to turn a new leaf and advised members of the public to report perpetrators by contacting the CBN Contact Centre on 07002255226; Telephone Ext: 711025 – 7; firstname.lastname@example.org and its social media handles.
The CBN official also debunked claims that the existing online platforms were not effective to support large volume of economic activities, stressing that the challenges associated with the online system “are not as bad as to warrant rejection of transfer payments.”