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Issuers of dud or dishonoured cheques will spend as much as seven years in jail, if current efforts at a strong regulatory framework to discourage the criminal act culminate in a bill and subsequently passed into law by the National Assembly.
Disclosing this in a statement, the lead facilitator, National stakeholders workshop on dishonoured cheques in Nigeria, Mr. Nwala Chudie Oracle, expressed regret that since the coming into existence of the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act of 1977, which prescribes two-year jail term, “no offender has been jailed.”
He decried the negative impact dud or dishonoured cheques were having on the economy which the Central Bank of Nigeria estimated at N166 billion, aside the depletion of the integrity of cheque payment system. He also called for the classification of dud cheque issuance as a financial crime to be handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to him, “Until we have strong regulatory framework, we cannot prosecute issuers of dud cheques.”
He added that the national conference, which opens in Abuja on Wednesday, would bring together experts that would make input to his team’s work. This, he noted, would give birth to a bill that will be presented to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.
Oracle maintained that while the steady transition to e-payment system was encouraging, “there is need to protect any individual using cheque as a payment option.”
“The primary objective of the national stakeholders’ workshop is to reinforce the untiring endeavour of the central bank in enhancing the credibility of the financial sector. The workshop will be the stakeholders’ contribution to the string of concern that the present administration, with its drive for the stability and sanitisation of the financial sector has continued to show lead.
“This workshop will ascertain and canvas the role of effective and viable use of cheques in enhancing the cashless policy as well as awaken the consciousness of the existence of the extant dishonoured cheques (offences) Act and to purposefully energise and inspire the stakeholders with advocacy armament to possibly call for amendment of the Act and its feasible legal enforcement,” he explained.