Punishment For Currency Offences In Nigeria

Money is central to life. It is central to all human interactions and transactions and daily, it manifests itself as a medium of exchange. In this capacity, it acquires increasing importance as the volume of human transactions rise.

As the importance of money has increased, so has the fakery of it. Many people have fallen victim of this fakery of currency. Many people have been swindled out of their property by worthless paper faked as currency.

They have been made to suffer losses  , they have been made to cling on to worthless paper while parting with their invaluable goods and services.

Read Also: Punishment For Forgery Under Nigerian Law

Punishment For Currency Offences In Nigeria

Currency Offences In Nigeria – Photo Source: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng

The law frowns at this kind of practice and in making vast, far-reaching provisions to protect currency and punish currency offences, the law pays critical heed to the value of currency.

What is currency?

The 7th Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner `s Dictionary, International Student`s Edition, at page 359, defines “currency” thus:

“The   system of money   that a country uses.”

The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 440   defines “Currency ” as:

An item (such as a coin, government note, or bank note) that circulates as a medium of exchange  ”

 The New International Webster`s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition) at page   317 defines “currency” thus:

The current medium of exchange; coin or bank notes.”

Wikipedia wades in with its description of “Currency” as:

“A currency in the most specific use of the word, refers to money in any form   when in actual use or circulation as a medium of exchange, especially circulating banknotes   and coins. A more general definition   is that currency is a system of money, in   common use, especially in nations.”

A twin thread runs through all the definitions above and it is that currency is a system of money which is in common use. Being in common use, it is open to abuse. It   is this abuse   that the law seeks to preclude and punish.

Read Also: Armed Robbery Under Nigeria Criminal Law: Definition, Menace, Consequences, Punishment

 Currency Offences   

Nigeria`s apex criminal legislation, the Criminal Code Act, makes exhaustive provisions on currency offences. Chapter 16 of the Criminal Code Act is laden   with 18 sections which cover currency offences. These sections criminalize and prescribe penal sanctions for currency offences of all shades and stripes.

However, the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions Act   is blessed with more clarity on the proscription of currency offences.

Commencing on December 31, 1983, it possesses 13  sections.

It expressly opens by providing stiff penalties   for aggravated currency offences.

Section 1 of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act provides that:

a. Any person who falsely makes or counterfeits any bank note resembling any bank note issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria and which is legal tender in Nigeria, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall on conviction thereof be sentenced to life imprisonment.

b. Any person who falsely makes or counterfeits any coin resembling any current coin in which it is legal tender in Nigeria, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and on conviction thereof shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.

c. Any person who falsely makes or counterfeits  any bank note or coin resembling   any bank note or current coin which is legal tender   in any country other than Nigeria, shall be guilty of an offence   under this   Act and shall on conviction thereof shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Section 2 criminalizes the making, etc., or being in possession of implements for making or counterfeit currency. It provides that:

“Any person who, without authority or excuse(the proof whereof shall lie  on the person accused),knowingly makes or mends or begins or proceeds to make or mend, or buys or sells, or has in his possession any puncheon, counter-puncheon, matrix , stamp, dye, pattern or mould in or upon which  there is made or impressed, or which will make or impress, or which is adapted  or intended  to  make or impress, the figure, stamp or pattern  resembling both  or either  of those sides, or any machinery, implement, utensil or material used or intended to be used  for the forgery  of a bank note or for falsely  making a current coin,whether or not  the bank note or current coin be legal tender in Nigeria, is  guilty of an offence under this Act  and on conviction thereof shall, whether the bank note or coin be legal tender in Nigeria or in any other country, be sentenced to life imprisonment.”

Section 3 penalizes “Importing and exporting counterfeit currency and implements.” It provides thus:

a. Any person who, without lawful authority or excuse( the proof  whereof shall lie on  the person accused)

b. Imports or receives into Nigeria any false or counterfeit bank or note or current  coin resembling any bank note or current coin, knowing it to be  false or counterfeit; or

c. Exports from Nigeria, or puts on board any ship, vessel, boat, aircraft or other vehicle ,for the purpose  of being so exported, any  or counterfeit  bank note or  current  coin resembling  any bank   note or current, knowing it to be false or counterfeit is guilty of an offence under this Act and on  conviction   thereof    shall, whether  the bank note  or coin is legal  tender  in  Nigeria or any other country, be  sentenced to life imprisonment.

d. Any person who, without lawful authority or excuse (the proof whereof shall lie  on the person accused), imports into Nigeria any puncheon, counter -puncheon, matrix, stamp, dye, pattern or mould in or upon which there is made or impressed or which will  make or impress, or which  is adapted and  intended to make or impress, the figure, stamp,or apparent resemblances of both or either of the sides  of any bank note  or current coin or any part of both or either of those sides or any machinery ,implement, utensil or material used or intended  to be used for the forgery of a bank note or for falsely making a current coin ,whether or not the bank note or current coin be legal tender in Nigeria, is guilty of an offence under this Act and on conviction thereof shall be sentenced  to life imprisonment.

Read Also: Punishment For Corruption Under Nigerian Law

e. Any person, who without lawful authority or excuse(the proof whereof shall lie on the person accused imports into Nigeria –

f. Any edges, edging or other tool, collar, instrument or engine adapted  or intended  for the marking of coins round the edges with letters, graining   or  other marks  or figures apparently resembling  those on the edges of any current  coin which is legal tender in Nigeria, knowing it to be adapted or intended as aforesaid; or

g. Any press for coinage, or any cutting engine or machine for cutting by force of a screw or any other contrivance round blanks out of any metal or mixture of metals, knowing the press  to be a press for coinage or knowing the engine  or machine  to have  been used  to be intended to be used for the false making or counterfeiting  of any current coin, whether  or not the current coin  be  legal tender in  Nigeria is guilty of  an  offence  and shall on conviction  be  sentenced  to life imprisonment.

Section 4 of the Act forbids any dealing in counterfeit currency and punishes it with life imprisonment.

Section 5 of the Act forbids the uttering and being in possession of counterfeit currency. It stipulates a maximum twenty-one year imprisonment for anybody who utters or is in possession of counterfeit  currency.

Section 6 of the Act proscribes any attempt to commit any of the offences in the Act.

The gravity with which the law looks at currency offences is no secret when a consideration is given to the fact that the penultimate sanction (Life imprisonment) is reserved in most cases for offenders.

Highlights

a. Currency is a system of money which is in use.

b. The value of currency makes it a prime target for criminal fakery.

c. The law frowns on all manner of currency counterfeiting

d. The law targets currency offenders with penal sanctions whether the currency abused is that of Nigeria or any other country.

e. That life imprisonment is a prominent penalty for currency offences underlines the gravity with which the law looks at it.

Read Also: Punishment For Driving Without A License In Nigeria

 Remember:                

a. That as a Nigerian citizen under Sections 25,26 or 27 of the 1999 Constitution, your fundamental rights are guaranteed under Sections 33 to 46 of the same Constitution.

b. That the Constitution guarantees you equal rights, obligations, opportunities   and easy accessibility to court under Section 17.

c. That com   works with a team of lawyers to inform   you   of your rights, obligations and opportunities under the law.

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