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EFCC plans clampdown on schools charging foreign currencies in Nigeria

EFCC plans clampdown on schools charging foreign currencies in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has placed international schools charging tuition in dollars and other foreign currencies under surveillance.

EFCC believes such schools are contributing to the pressure on the Nigerian currency, the naira.

EFCC’s spokesman, Dele Oyewale, confirmed the development to newsmen on Thursday, saying the agency would clamp down on schools and other organisations charging foreign currencies.

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He reiterated that it was illegal for schools, hotels and firms operating in the country to charge for services in foreign currencies.

He explained that the 7,000-man special task force on dollar racketeers operating across the EFCC zonal commands was monitoring the schools and other organisations that might be involved in the illegality.

In a move to curb the free fall of the naira against the greenback, the anti-graft agency in February summoned the proprietors of private universities and other schools charging tuition in dollars.

The task force also conducted several raids in Abuja, arresting currency traders suspected to be speculating against the naira.

Worried by the depreciation of the national currency, the Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, had met with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso and the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, to proffer solutions to the naira crisis.

Oyewale said it was illegal for any business operating in the country to charge for its services in foreign denominations apart from the naira, vowing sanctions for any breach of the law.

He stated, “The task force is not just to monitor naira abuse alone but for the whole economy. So, the EFCC is working to ensure that those breaking the rules find their way back to the right path so that the wrath of the law will not be on them.

“Yes, everyone knows that it is illegal to charge in other denominations apart from the naira. Whether in Chinese or American currency, any transaction that is not denominated in naira in Nigeria, the EFCC is against it.

“So, the task force is in place to check that and Nigerians should be happy about that. It is not just schools, hotels but other entities across the country that are doing this must come back to the naira as our legal tender.’’

He added, “Naira is the symbol of our economy and everything that has to do with the economy in Nigeria must be done in naira.’’

Asked if the schools, hotels and other businesses under watch would be punished if caught violating the law, Oyewale responded, ‘’Certainly, they are aware that we are watching them.’’

NUT supports EFCC

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has declared its support for the EFCC over the move to sanction erring international schools charging in dollars.

The NUT president, Titus Amba, said, “Though I am not meant to speak on this because these schools are private schools. However, it is necessary to note that this is Nigeria and if you are going to charge for services, it should be in the national currency which is naira.

“So, we support the EFCC on its mission. Acts like these are sabotaging the economy so we support the EFCC and the Federal Government wholeheartedly.”

CISLAC hails move

The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, urged the government to review its memorandum of understanding with foreign schools and other businesses demanding payment in foreign currencies, noting that the economy was suffering on account of this.

“This cannot happen in the UK, it cannot happen in America, it cannot happen in any serious country. And that is why the economy is suffering because they have destroyed the value of the naira.

“So, we commend EFCC for rising to at least bring this issue to the public, because in the Memorandum of Understanding that they signed with the Nigerian government, there is nowhere the government permitted them to be charging in dollars. If there is anything like that, then we will need to seek reversal of that,” he said.

The group further asked the government to monitor the operations of all businesses demanding payment in foreign currencies.

Rafsanjani noted, ‘’Not only the foreign schools but even hospitals and real estate. Let the government review all those things, and if there were any fraudulent insertion of payment in dollars, the government should stop that as part of measures to revitalise the economy and our currency.”

 

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