The recent arrest of fake currencies syndicate by the Lagos State Police Command represents a worrisome trend that poses great danger to the survival of the economy if such counterfeiting in money is not nipped in the bud.
The suspects, numbering five, who had been paraded by the Police at two different locations in Lagos, were caught with eight printing machines and a large quantity of printed fake notes in both local currency, the Naira, and foreign currencies such as Dollar, Pound, Euro and Cedi, totaling N108 million.
Also arrested by the Lagos State Police Command was an alleged buyer of the fake currencies. The syndicate, according to the Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, has been in the illegal business for over five years. Indeed, the fake currencies on display during the parade of the suspects reportedly looked real enough, indicative of the suspects’ mastery of counterfeiting in paper money. The arrest of the suspects, coordinated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS)followed a tip-off about their operations. All the suspects are said to have made confessional statements to the Police.
While we commend the Lagos State Police Command for its efforts in bursting the operation of the syndicate, this is one criminality that must be thoroughly investigated. The syndicate may be larger in number and even more sophiscated in its operations than is already known.
Clearly, the fact that the syndicate has such an array of equipment at its disposal is a pointer to its dexterity and desperation. In that regard, the Nigeria Police Force should enlist the assistance of the International Police(Interpol)to unravel the details and scope of the syndicate.
In a serious matter like this, with its far reaching negative economic implications, there should be no room for errors. No scrap of evidence should be left unturned. The public expects that after a thorough investigation of the modus operandi of the syndicate, as well as its “customers and collaborators”, prosecution will accordingly follow with a severe punishment commensurate with the offence committed. Counterfeiting in currencies, it must be stressed, is as old as money itself, and sufficiently prevalent throughout history, so much so that it is pejoratively called the “world’s second oldest profession”.
Such is its unwholesomeness that the first convicted counterfeiters in October,1690,the English couple, Thomas Rogers and Anne Rogers, were handed severe punishment, with Thomas Rogers hanged and his wife, Anne burnt alive. In our economy where paper money represents a huge percentage of the money in circulation, the macroeconomic effect of fake currencies in circulation could be significantly grave.
It diminishes the real value and confidence in the national currency, and besides, increases inflation. We urge the Police and other security agencies to leave no stone unturned in unraveling other fake currency syndicates that could be operating in other parts of the country.