Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: Thieves everywhere (YNaija FrontPage)


I’m very confused like many Nigerians, as to how N2billion in hot raw cash, could grow legs and walk out of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC).

Boarding school was a lot of fun. But that’s only because I’m looking back now. While the journey was on, it was never a fun experience; and I doubt it was fun for anyone who went to a boarding school in Nigeria in the 80s or 90s. Those were times when prefects, seniors, teachers and then books were important in that order. If a prefect or senior wanted something done at any point, it didn’t matter that you had an exam in 3 hours. It had to be done as soon as they wanted it. The nice part was waiting to become a senior, knowing that you would have your day in the sun with your juniors. And God help them that you’re made a prefect on top of it.

Now, there was an era in my boarding school when people’s lockers were getting jacked consistently. The skill and precision with which it was done, was pretty impressive. Padlocks were broken, lockers would be opened and the thief would have a feast on the milk, sugar, cereal and whatever else he found in there. But he would not take the containers away. He just ate them up and placed the containers back neatly in the locker as if nothing had happened. So those annoying students who never liked to touch their stuff (even at the middle of the term when half the school is hungry), could actually go several weeks before realizing they had been keeping empty containers for a while.

This went on for a while and many had no idea who was doing it. A month became a term and no one had still been caught. When we resumed the next term, the stealing did as well. But a few weeks into the term, one of the most popular students in school, was expelled for a catalogue of offences, including sneaking out of school and a poor academic record. The stealing stopped soon as he left and many believed the school knew he was doing it and had to send him out for something since they couldn’t catch him in the act.

A few years ago, an Uncle of mine was pretty mad at his household. Someone in his house had been stealing his ATM card and conveniently withdrawing money from his account. He’s a wealthy man so this thing had gone on for a while before he was able to notice. My brother was his banker at the time and he wasn’t going to let any of it slide. He wanted records of withdrawals, and the locations of the ATMs where the withdrawals had been made. When he got those, he asked for CCTV footage to see whom the culprit was. It was a very funny time because all this while, some of the guilty people in his house, also reached out to my brother to try and convince him not to help their dad. But he owned the account and got what he wanted. The ATM thief turned out to be his favorite child.

I’m not even sure why I’m telling these stories anymore but right now, I’m very confused like many Nigerians, as to how N2billion in hot raw cash, could grow legs and walk out of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC). Yes, by Nigerian terms, that isn’t too much money anymore considering the sorts of amounts we’ve heard in the past year being stolen by petroleum products marketers in the name of subsidy. Neither is it weighty when placed beside the sort of figures state governors have reportedly stolen in the past. But this is different; very different.

When money is stolen via a signature or bank transfer or wire, it could be tough to figure out. The bureaucracy of finding out who signed what where and what bank approved what to whose account may take a while; especially if the monies do end up in one of those countries with closed banking laws. This thankfully (or not) isn’t one of those occasions. This N2.1billion was made up of newly printed N1000 notes. Now, I’m trying to understand how the entire amount was stacked up and taken out of a company that has the word ‘Security in its name. Was it moved at once or over a period of time? Isn’t there a camera, any camera at all that picked up anything? Hardly makes any sense.

Tiny ATM scams are caught on camera and can easily be resolved that way. Even my school with its petty thief was able to crack a problem like this and nip it in the bud. This makes no sense at all. None!  And as usual, we’ve started hearing stories that are supposed to help cover up the entire mess. Some spokesman has now said that only N900,000 was missing and that has been resolved. How we went from N2.1billion to under N1million is almost laughable. But this is Nigeria where many things are laughable, yet true.

Then in the face of all this, we have a Presidential spokesman who says Nigeria’s corruption ranking is unacceptable as we’re doing better with our fight against corruption.  But that one is a topic for another frustrating day. It is not enough that the NSPMC MD or even the entire board is fired over a theft like this. Where is the money? Who is guilty? Who aided the theft? Why is security lax in such an important national company? People need to be punished for this. Fully!



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (4)

  1. For how long are we going to sit back and watch these thieves misbehave. Corruption is at its peak

  2. Its really sad that such an amount would go missing in that agency. I'm fully convinced its some top officials who are the culpits. My aunt worked in the minting agency some years back. She as well as some of her colleagues were fired because less than 2000 naira went missing in their unit. And now we are talking about billions and they are playing dumb.

  3. My brother do not be surprise at the level of corruption in the country any more, it is just part of the system.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail