Six suspected vendors who specialised in illicit trading of Naira notes for profit have been arrested by security operatives in a sting operation in Port Harcourt.

Mr Michael Ogar, the Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Rivers, briefed newsmen on the suspected illicit naira dealers in Port Harcourt on Friday.

He said the suspects were arrested in a joint operation involving NSCDC, Department of State Security (DSS) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The suspects, five females and one male, aged between 20 years and 58 years old were picked up from their tents around Garrison and Mile One Park in Port Harcourt.

“The sting operation carried out by NSCDC, DSS and CBN is aimed at forestalling illicit sales of the nation’s currency notes, the naira.

“A total sum of N1.779 million in various denominations were recovered from the suspects – with investigation partly focusing on the source of the mint notes,” he said.

Ogar said sale and hawking of naira notes, as well as writing, squeezing and spraying of naira notes at both social and corporate ceremonies was unlawful and punishable by law.

“This practice contravenes Section 20 and 21 of the CBN Act 2007 that prescribes punishment for any person or group of persons who buy, sell and trade the naira currency.

“We will continue the clampdown of perpetrators of this offence which attracts a minimum six months jail time or a fine of not less than N50,000 or both.

“It is a crime for people to go to the banks; collect mints, and then come out and sell those mints to Nigerians,” he added.

Ogar said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigation into the matter was concluded.

The NSCDC Commandant said the operation would continue with operatives covertly visiting birthday parties, burial and wedding ceremonies among others, to arrest defaulters.

He warned members of the public to desist from carrying out acts capable of defacing the naira, adding that anyone found culpable would be arrested and charged to court. (NAN)