Charging for Service in Dollars Could  Lead to Imprisonment—EFCC Warns Nigerians

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned against the utilization of foreign currencies, particularly the dollar, for transactions within the country.

Mr. Ola Olukoyede, the Chairman of the EFCC, delivered this strong warning in the most recent issue of the agency’s publication, EFCC Alert, which was shared with Vanguard on Monday.

Olukoyede emphasized that individuals found accepting fees for services or goods in foreign currencies would face legal repercussions, being treated as criminals under Nigerian law.

The EFCC chairman said: “We have also started securing convictions. Also on the dollarisation of our economy, invoicing in dollar, schools that charge Nigerians in dollar, supermarkets that trade in dollar, estate developers that sell their properties 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 arrest. This is making impact as the rate at which some people advertise goods and services in dollar has really gone down.

“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 who are involved in currency trading are properly licensed, regulated, and do their documentation properly,” the chairman stated.

Olukoyede, who additionally addressed the initiatives undertaken by the agency under his leadership to combat corruption, strongly criticized Nigerians who persist in glorifying criminals within the nation, asserting that such behavior is detrimental to society.

The chairman expressed bewilderment at individuals who choose to turn a blind eye to the egregious offenses perpetrated against the nation by those under investigation for financial crimes, while simultaneously criticizing the commission for fulfilling its mandate.

The chairman noted, “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.

“People are given money to procure arms and they won’t do it, and so expose those at the warfront to all kinds of danger and peril. It is important for us to come together as a people. Outsiders are not going to clean Nigeria for us. We are here. Someone like me I only have one passport, the green passport.

Corruption is so damaging, and that is why we are where we are today. Go to other African countries, small countries across the globe, you will see development, you’ll see good roads, you’ll see quality health facilities.

“Even the issue of insecurity that we are talking about, one way or the other, it can be linked to corruption. I keep telling people that there is nothing wrong with us fundamentally as Nigerians, but the system we run, and the processes that we follow are the things that are causing problems for us.

“There are bad guys all over the world, but over there, their system is strong enough to checkmate them and to ensure that there are consequences for wrongdoing. So we need to come together and say wrong is wrong irrespective of whether we are related to the person or not. That is when I’ll believe that we are ready to fight corruption”.

The chairman emphasized the necessity of establishing specialized courts to adjudicate corruption cases, citing the detrimental impact of corruption on the nation’s development.

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“If we agree that corruption has contributed greatly to underdevelopment, then we must adopt extraordinary means to fight it. And, one of the things we can do, is by setting up special courts to deal with the issue of corruption, so that corruption cases will be adjudicated upon expeditiously and also timely. Of course, when we do this, the speed of getting justice will be increased. Even for those that we prosecute, it is good for them to also get justice on time. Like they say, justice delayed, is justice denied.

“I have always been an advocate for the creation of special courts, and I will continue to be. I believe that the time has come for this, and I also appeal to the members of the National Assembly to help us in facilitating this. This will be a great boost to the corruption fight in Nigeria. We have laws and regulations guiding our investigations,” Olukoyede said.

He said, “Moreover, with respect to this particular case, we have recovered over N30 billion, which is already in the coffers of the Federal Government. It takes time to conclude investigations; we started this matter less than six weeks ago. There are cases that take years to investigate. There are so many angles to it. And we need to follow through some of the discoveries that we have seen.

“Nigerians should give us time on this matter; we have professionals on this case and they need to do things right. There are so many leads here and there. As it is now, we are investigating over 50 bank accounts that we have traced money into. That is no child’s play. That’s a big deal,” the chairman said.