A notorious terrorist leader, Kachalla Baleri, has been seen in a viral video displaying wads of new naira notes amid a scarcity of the naira.
The PUNCH reports that banking halls across various commercial banks in Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, and other parts of the country witnessed minimal activity as frustrated customers resorted to alternative means of cash withdrawal following the scarcity of naira notes in the banks.
Checks by our correspondents revealed that while most banking halls were empty due to the paucity of funds in bank vaults, large crowds had formed outside some of the few banks that were rumoured to be preparing to load their Automated Teller Machines.
But the bandit leader, in an unverified video released online on Wednesday, claimed that he had enough of the new naira notes.
Baleri, who spoke in the Hausa language in the two minutes 20 seconds video clip, claimed he had up to N10 million of the new naira notes.
He also claimed he had enough new naira notes to purchase more weapons. The new naira notes in his possession were ransom he allegedly received from relatives of abductees, according to some defence blogs.
The PUNCH reports that Kachalla was one of the 19 bandits/terrorists kingpins that were declared wanted by the Defence Headquarters in November 2022.
The military high command also placed a N5m bounty on each of them to encourage Nigerians to volunteer information that could lead to their arrest.
A former Director, Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, confirmed the authenticity of the list to our correspondent in November. Also, the DHQ urged the public to provide information that could lead to the arrest of Kachalla and others.
However, in the viral video seen by our correspondent on Thursday, Kachalla and his gang members who spoke in the Hausa language, could be seen displaying some currency notes.
Posting the video on Thursday morning, a defence blogger, with the Twitter handle @Edrees4P, tweeted, “Short video clip of a terrorist leader Baleri displaying new naira notes claiming that he has more than enough to buy more weapons.”
Also, posting a photo of Baleri, a defence blog, @DefenceTimesNG tweeted, “Scarcity of Naira: Notorious bandit leader Kachalla Baleri release video clip displaying new naira notes he received from N10million naira ransom in N200, N500, N1000 denominations.”
Daily Trust had on January 26 reported that some bandits rejected a N5.3 million ransom which was paid to them with the old naira notes, saying the deadline for their usage was fast approaching.
The newspaper learnt that the leader of the bandits, who raided Azara, Janjala and Kadara communities in Kaduna State on December 12, 2022, and kidnapped 37 people, asked the relatives of the victims to return the old naira notes when they brought them for ransom payment.
Instead, he requested foodstuff, drugs and wine before freeing two nursing mothers and three men among the abducted 11 people from Azara community in Kachia LGA.
The PUNCH reports that operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission stormed two banks in Bauchi State on Tuesday to monitor the cash disbursement exercise, as the agency noted that the operation would spread across the country.
Our correspondent gathered that the operation which was still ongoing was being carried out by a joint task force comprising operatives of the ICPC and its sister anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and staff members of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The raids came a few days after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the apex bank would collaborate with law enforcement agencies such as the ICPC and the EFCC, to track heavy withdrawals.
The PUNCH reports that the CBN had extended the deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes from January 31 to February 10.
On Wednesday, on Wednesday, the ICPC arrested an Abuja-based Twitter user, Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, with the handle @SimisolaGold and Twitter name Simisola of Lala, for offering new naira notes for sale on social media.
The EFCC on Tuesday disclosed that it had arrested members of a syndicate of currency racketeers trading in the redesigned naira notes at Zone 4, Wuse and Dei-Dei axis of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Also, the DSS revealed on Monday that its operatives arrested some currency traders who had turned the sale of newly redesigned notes into brisk business.