In a bold move aimed at alleviating pressure on the naira, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has mobilized a specialized task force comprising 7,000 operatives across its 14 zonal commands to crackdown on dollar racketeers.
Dele Oyewale, the agency’s spokesperson, revealed in a statement from Abuja that proprietors of private universities and schools charging tuition fees in dollars have been summoned for questioning.
The Nigerian currency has faced a steep decline against the dollar in recent weeks, plummeting from approximately 900 naira per dollar to over 1,400 naira per dollar in official markets.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Olayemi Cardoso, addressing the House of Representatives, disclosed that Nigerians had expended $98 billion over a decade on foreign education, healthcare, and personal travels, exerting significant pressure on the naira.
Cardoso cited a variety of factors contributing to the forex crisis, including speculative forex demand, inadequate forex reserves due to low remittance of crude oil earnings to the CBN, increased capital outflows, and excess liquidity from fiscal activities.
In response to the volatility, Cardoso outlined a comprehensive strategy to enhance liquidity in the forex market, including measures such as unifying FX market segments and enforcing stricter regulations for commercial banks.
The EFCC’s intervention includes a crackdown on currency mutilation and dollarization of the economy. Perpetrators issuing invoices in dollars and mutilating the naira have already been apprehended in Lagos and Rivers States.
To bolster the national currency and stabilize the volatile exchange rate, the CBN has directed Deposit Money Banks to sell their excess dollar stocks by February 1, 2024, and warned against hoarding foreign currencies for profit.
The new circular issued by the CBN introduces guidelines aimed at mitigating risks associated with such practices and underscores the urgency of targeted measures to combat the forex crisis plaguing the nation.