The Federal Government is perfecting plans to prosecute some top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as some commercial bank chiefs and other private individuals involved in shady foreign exchange deals.
Such individuals would be charged with economic sabotage. This is a part of the government’s ongoing efforts to halt the free-fall of the Naira and resolve the foreign exchange crisis crippling the nation’s economy.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), gave an indication of the planned trial of the CBN’s top managers and others on Wednesday at a press conference in Abuja.
The minister said that the Federal Government will bring to book heads of public regulatory agencies in the financial sector who have been found culpable in the current financial crisis in the country.
The minister identified the negative activities of those he termed “economic terrorists” to include: round-tripping of foreign exchange sourced from the Interbank Market, rendition of false foreign exchange utilisation data, non-repatriation of export proceeds, use of foreign exchange for non-eligible purposes, among others.
Malami said that investigations into the sabotage of the economy by some government officials in collusion with some private individuals had been concluded, adding that those found wanting would soon have their days in court.
The AGF said that after failed attempts by some private citizens to coax the government into devaluing the naira, they resorted to conniving with heads of public financial regulatory bodies to stifle the economy.
He said: “The Federal Government is aware of the insidious activities of certain elements within some of our strategic national institutions, who rather than exert their regulatory powers, have chosen to use their strong accomplices within the system to manipulate the foreign exchange market for personal corrupt gains to the detriment of the national economy.
“In this regard, measures are already in place to deal with the infractions decisively and relevant security agencies are on the red alert to investigate these infractions and appropriate sanctions shall follow accordingly,” Malami declared.
The minister stressed that in the exercise of his powers as the AGF, he had directed the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) and other relevant security agencies to further probe and confirm the information already at the disposal of government about the nefarious activities of these elements within and outside the national institutions.
“It has become obvious that having failed in the attempts to force the devaluation of the naira, certain forces have now aligned to create an artificial currency situation whose primary purpose is to undermine the economic programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“The differential has given rise to sharp practices and rent-seeking activities by these entities that run contrary to various provisions of the laws governing the conduct of the Foreign Exchange market and our Anti-Money Laundering regime,” Malami said.
The AGF assured Nigerians of the government’s commitment to provide a sustainable platform for the foreign exchange market to thrive in the country.
Meanwhile, the Senate has passed into second reading a Bill for an Act to seek cooperation with other countries to repatriate and prosecute alleged corrupt Nigerians and their accomplices living outside the country.
The Bill is titled: “A Bill for an Act to make provision for mutual assistance in criminal matters between Nigeria and other foreign states and other related matters 2016”.
Leading the debate on the general principles of the Bill, Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, said the import of the planned law is that it would compel looters of the nation’s treasury to return such without further delay.
The bill went through a brief debate before its referral to the Senate Committees on Judiciary, Foreign Affairs and Anti-Corruption for further legislative consideration.
The Committees are expected to come up with a report on the Bill after a public hearing within two weeks.