The Federal Government yesterday directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banks, Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and some businessmen, among others, over the forex scarcity and weak naira.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), further stated that any operator found guilty to have contributed to the fallen naira will be prosecuted irrespective of who such a person or group of persons are.
Addressing a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, Malami noted that there is an urgent need to review the foreign exchange market from the perspective of the degree of compliance with extant laws and regulations.
He further noted that the current state of naira is not as a result of neutral economic factors or directly related to demand and supply forces alone, but rather by a carefully orchestrated criminal conspiracies and manipulation by unscrupulous elements hiding under the cloak of so-called ‘market forces’.
According to him, “as a responsible government, we cannot afford to allow such a situation anchored on unlawful alliances and criminal enterprise to continue unchecked, when it is apparent that its primary objective is to sabotage the economic agenda of the present administration.
“Government will continue to adopt a broadbased approach to the resolution of this issue. Government is aware of the insidious activities of certain elements within some strategic national institutions, who, rather than exert their regulatory powers, have chosen to use their strong accomplice within the system to manipulate the foreign exchange market for personal corrupt gains and to the detriment of the national economy.
“Let me restate in the strongest terms that these nefarious malpractice by unscrupulous individuals and institutions will no longer be tolerated. In this regards, measures are already in place to deal with infractions decisively and relevant security agencies are on the red alert to investigate these infractions and appropriate sanctions shall follow accordingly.
“In the exercise of the powers of my office and in consonance with the vision of this administration of zero tolerance for corruption, I have therefore directed the EFCC and other relevant security agencies to further investigate and confirm the information already available to government about the nefarious activities of these unscrupulous elements within and outside our national institutions.”
The AGF stated that the activities of groups and individuals are sabotaging the genuine efforts of government. He said that all persons indicted by the EFCC investigation will be prosecuted.
His words: “Let me emphasise that government is fighting this menace with all the resources because the activities of these group of persons in our view, amounts to economic terrorism. Our efforts will be all-encompassing and robust order to save our economy from total collapse. After the outcome of investigations, all persons indicted will be brought to book and face prosecution in due course.
“As I emphasised earlier, government will always apply a pro-active approach to curb the activities of these unscrupulous elements. The Federal Ministry of Justice will always ensure that the CBN is always alive to its responsibilities by way of ensuring that breaches and infractions are punished and all identifiable forces are brought to book.
“It has become obvious that having failed in the attempt to force devaluation, certain forces have aligned to create an artificial currency situation, whose primary purpose is to undermine the economic programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“We are witnessing manipulative, coordinated and speculative activities in the foreign exchange market, leading to the current wide differential between official rate at the CBN and the parallel market rate, respectively, in a manner that defies rational economic analysis.”
The minister explained further that these nefarious speculative activities exert further pressure on the naira exchange rate and have created a very wide artificial differential between the aforesaid two rates, which are now being exploited by unscrupulous individuals and institutions.
“Government is aware of the insidious activities of certain elements within some of our strategic national institutions, who, rather exert their regulatory power, have chosen to use their strong accomplices within the system to manipulate the foreign exchange market for personal corrupt gains and to the detriment of the national economy.
” Let me restate in a strongest terms that these nefarious malpractices by unscrupulous individuals and institutions will no longer be tolerated. In this regard, measures are already in place to deal with the infractions decisively and relevant security agencies are on red alert to investigate these infractions and appropriate actions will follow accordingly,” he added.
He further emphasised the government’s intention to diversify the economy through the blocking of all revenue loopholes, undertake a robust recovery process in Nigeria and overseas and prosecute all treasury looters in accordance with the law.
New Telegraph tried unsuccessfully to get a reaction from the CBN to the minister’s remarks.
Source: New Telegraph