Hope Afoke Orivri & Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Abakaliki
All over the world, people are working their fingers to the bones to make money. But one Nigerian, who appeared to have found an easy… way out, is now in police net.
Anniedu Ekong Ekanem, 42, was arrested following a discovery that he had set up a mint in his bedroom, where he prints money day and night.
Detectives from the Zone ‘2’ Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos, claimed to have found loads of fake Naira notes at Ekanem’s home on Evans Edogho Street, in the Ipaja area of the state.
The suspect, who used to trade in second-hand clothes before he started printing money, told the Nigerian Compass that he had lost count of how much of the fake notes he had pumped into circulation.
His words: “At each printing period, I do N1 million worth of N1000 denomination, and the same applies to the N500 denomination. I do not print lesser denominations because I have to put into consideration the cost of printing the job, and what my profit will be.”
Unruffled, Ekanem who is married with children, said it was one Alhaji Merabora that taught him how to print fake currencies. The said teacher, according to him, had died.
Ekanem said he met the late teacher at a mosque in Agege, Lagos, when he decided to become a Muslim.
“It was sometime between 2006 and 2007, when I decided that I wanted to serve God as a Muslim, that I met Alhaji at the mosque. It was not about just learning a business from him,” he said.
After building a close relationship with Alhaji Merabora, Ekanem said he was taught the intricacies of minting fake notes. He said the man did not collect money for the lessons, because they were attending the same mosque.
Ekanem later acquired the tools of the trade, which he named as six pieces of PAC 500 printing machines, printing papers, instrument for cutting the papers to size, as well as materials for producing the negatives before the fake notes are rolled out.
He said, “When I saw how easy the technology was, I got all the materials I needed and I started working on my own. All what you see in the containers have nothing to do with the printing actually. The main thing is the making of the negative and the printing.”
Claiming that he was into the shady business alone, Ekanem said he did not need any assistance to do the job perfectly. The mint was inside his bedroom and each time he needed to work, he would do it in the dead of the night, when there would be no prying eyes.
When the printing is done, Ekanem, who had established a channel to funnel the notes into the system, would then call his partners in crime to handle the distribution.
“We sometimes meet at Abule-Egba or anywhere around Ipaja area. The important thing is that we make it to different places at each time, to ensure our safety,” he said.
Ekanem’s explanation of what gets to him as profit was rather incredible. He said that for every N100,000 bundle of fake currency, he was collecting N3,000.
His words : “I sell the bundle worth N100,000 for N3,000. I don’t have anything to lie about. Therefore, for every N1million I print, I get N30,000.You can see the reason I print up to that value each time I do the job.”
When asked why he was not handling the distribution himself, he said those who were taking it into the market specialised in that, while his concern was just to print.
“How they do their own part of the job is not my business,” he said.
In a related development, the police in Ebonyi have also held two men for circulating fake N1000 notes in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Udeoji, said that the suspects were nabbed following a tip off.
He named the suspects as Uzodinma Chinweze, a native of Umuzucha village in Awka, Anambra State and Friday Alagba of Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi.
He said that the Eagle Squad team arrested the two suspects along Ogoja Road, Abakaliki, when they purchased a N1,200 worth of GSM recharge card with fake N1,000 note.
The duo, according to the CP, were operating in a red BMW car marked AA 159 APP. They had zoomed off in the car, when the police were called. But they were eventually trailed to Adig suites, off Ezza Road, Abakaliki, where they were arrested and 34 piece of fake N1000 notes were found on them.”
Chinweze admitted circulating the N1000 notes, claiming that the money was used to pay him, when he worked as a labourer in Anambra.
When his apartment was searched, the detectives recovered uncut sheets of printed N1000 and N500 denominations of the fake currency. There were several bundles that had already been cut to size and ready to go out.
Besides the printing machines, there were bottles containing chemicals used in the illegal minting. Some were used to clean up the face of the currencies after the printing.
Speaking on the case, the Assistant-Inspector-General of police in charge of Zone ‘2’, Mr Muhammed Abubakar, said the discovery made by his men was the result of good surveillance work that the zone had been doing.
Condemning the crime, Abubakar said the perpetrators would pay for their sins.
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I’ve always maintained that the problem with Nigeria is that the brain of the common man has is used for the wrongest things.