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EFCC to arrest hotels, schools, others charging local customers in dollars

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has issued a stern warning to establishments such as schools, supermarkets, hotels, and others, cautioning against the practice of charging for services in dollars or any foreign currency within the country.

Ola Olukoyede, EFCC’s Chairman made the announcement on Monday, in the latest edition of the commission’s monthly e-magazine, EFCC Alert.

Olukoyede threatened to prosecute anyone found engaging in dollarization of the economy. He emphasized that such actions would be treated as criminal offenses in accordance with Nigerian laws.

What he said

  • “Schools that charge Nigerians in dollar, supermarkets that trade in dollar, estate developers that sell their property in dollar, hotels that are invoicing in dollar, we are coming after you and we have made arrests in that area.
  • “Yes, if foreigners are coming in and the only means of transacting is their credit card, and dollar, why not, you will get that.
  • “But document it properly as against selling things within the system, local economy and you will be using dollar as the medium of exchange, it is illegal.
  • “Our law does not allow for that. And we have also effected some arrests,” he said.

He emphasized the EFCC’s commitment to eradicating illegal forex trading and ensuring that currency traders operate within the bounds of the law, complementing the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria in this regard.

  • “We are not going to relent. We are going to continue until we eradicate mutilation of currency, and illegal dealing in forex. Another area is in the area of illegal forex trading.
  • “Coupled with the activities of the CBN, we are trying to ensure that those involved in currency trading are properly licensed, regulated, and do their documentation properly,” he stated.

Furthermore, Olukoyede condemned the celebration of criminals by some Nigerians, emphasizing the detrimental impact of corruption on society. He urged Nigerians to support the EFCC’s anti-corruption efforts and emphasized the need for collective action in combating corruption.

  • “I wondered why some Nigerians should be closing their eyes to the atrocities being committed against the nation by those being investigated for financial crimes but trying to attack the commission for doing its job.
  • “The moment EFCC starts investigating someone, those who have benefited from him one way or the other, will close their eyes to what they have been deprived of by reason of that financial crime.
  • “They then concentrate on attacking the agency. They use media propaganda and even sometimes physical attack, yet we are working for Nigerians.
  • “We are working to preserve integrity in the way we do things and so we need the support of Nigerians,” he said.

He reiterated his call for the establishment of special courts to expedite corruption cases, urging the National Assembly to facilitate this process. He emphasized that addressing corruption through extraordinary measures like special courts was crucial for Nigeria’s development and called for legislative support in this endeavor.

Backstory

The lack of liquidity in the foreign exchange market has eroded confidence in the Naira, leading many Nigerians and companies to conduct their transactions in dollars.

  1. Since the introduction of the FX unification policy in June 2023, the Naira has depreciated by over 70%. The CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, had highlighted that Nigerians’ foreign trips and medical tourism totaled about $98 million over a decade, noting that it had further strained the country’s foreign exchange reserves. These factors combined have intensified pressure on the foreign exchange market in Nigeria.

Nairametrics previously reported that EFCC had established a task force to enforce existing laws against currency mutilation and the dollarization of the economy as announced on February 7, 2024.

The task force has since been deployed to all EFCC zonal commands with the aim of safeguarding the economy against abuses, leakages, and distortions that could lead to instability and disruption.

The commission further disclosed that it apprehended several individuals involved in issuing invoices in dollars and mutilating the Naira in Lagos and Port Harcourt.


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