The recent security breach at the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc (NSPMC), otherwise known as The Mint, in which about N2.1 billion was reportedly missing is disturbing. According to reports, the vanished freshly minted currency was in one thousand naira denomination. Already, the management of the agency has instituted a full-scale investigation to determine, among other things, the circumstances that led to the breach as well as identify those involved in the financial scam both within and outside the Mint.
Besides, the parastatal has also clarified that the quantity of currency discovered to be missing from its production facilities is not up to the N2 billion as widely reported in the media. Similarly, the organization said that it has sanctioned members of staff, who have been found negligent in the matter, as a first step, while other disciplinary and legal steps including prosecution, shall be taken upon the conclusion of the on-going investigation.
To ensure that there is no official interference in the investigation, the NSPMC Board has authorized that the Managing Director and the Assistant General Manager (Security) proceed on leave pending the conclusion of investigation. We decry the current security breach and other breaches at the Mint so far. It is disturbing that some of those entrusted with such a sensitive job are fast turning it into a cesspool of corruption.
Therefore, notwithstanding the internal probe set up by the Mint to investigate this matter, there is the need for the Federal Government to institute a high-powered probe to properly investigate the real extent of the security breach, those behind it and the exact amount involved. This has become necessary in view of the discrepancy between the amount reported missing in the media and the amount the Management of the Mint admitted was actually missing. In fact, the Mint was not definitive on the exact amount missing. It only said that the missing currency was not up to N2 billion.
Nigerians would like to know how much was actually missing and those behind the monumental financial malfeasance. A serious matter like this should not be left to the management of Mint to handle alone. If necessary, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should wade into the matter, too. This is not the first time that the Mint is hitting the headlines on matters relating to scandalous operations. But this time around, government should strive to get at the culprits and diligently prosecute them and their collaborators.
This is one matter that government should use to demonstrate that its war on corruption is still on course. We condemn the mind-boggling security breach and urge the management of the Mint to overhaul its security systems to prevent future occurrence of the malaise. Releasing N2.1 billion into the nation’s economy in one fell swoop has serious economic implication. Apart from causing spiral inflation, it has security implication as some of the money may likely get into wrong hands, who will deploy them to sinister motive and use.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, should seriously look into the matter and find ways to strengthen the security at the Mint to prevent such security breach, which has become a pattern, in future. In other words, let government put in place stringent security measures at the Mint to forestall any such breaches in future. Stealing of money from the Mint is a serious financial crime that if left unchecked will, with time, undermine the nation’s economy. Those behind this heinous security breach must be unmasked, tried and sanctioned appropriately.