EFCC Moves to End Menace of Fake Visa

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Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa,yesterday, assured Nigerians of the commission’s effort towards tackling the menace of fake visas, by working with embassies with a view to sanitising the process, which has led to increase in the demand for foreign exchange.

This is as the Central Bank of Nigeria has said its ban on sales of forex had begun to yield results.

Bawa gave the assurance in Abuja, at the Roundtable conference on: ‘Depreciating value of naira and the Nigerian economy’, organised by the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), during which various stakeholders drawn from the academia and Association of Licensed Bureau-de-Change operators frowned at the impacts of the recent policy statement issued by the CBN on over N300 billion investment of the BDCs operators.

The EFCC boss, who was represented by the Director of Operations, Mr. Abdulkareem Chiko, observed that the prevailing economic situation has constrained government’s ability and capacity to generate the required revenue and provide the needed infrastructure.

He reiterated the commission’s resolve towards the enactment of legislative framework that would help in coordinating and ensuring the return of the looted funds back into the country with a view to addressing the revenue gaps.

“But from all these angle of the commission, there can be a very good contribution if there is a push on the side of the commission to ensure that there is a legislative framework to coordinate and ensure the return of the loots and funds back into the country to address the revenue gap. So, what we are trying to do is have a system whereby you can confirm if this visa is genuine or not there and there, because anybody that wants forex and wants to travel genuinely will go through the process of getting visa.

“That angle of looking at if the visa is genuine or not is not there yet, so you can as well afix any passport or visa on that passport, so it’s more like saying just do the needful and I will give you the dollars. But if you are working with embassies, it could make it very easy, there and then, you can send those things and within two or three days, once it’s confirmed that it’s fake, then EFCC will take over from there and we will get to the root of the matter.”

In his presentation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Director, Legal Services, Mr. Kofo Salam-Alada, said the ban on sale of foreign exchange to BDCs operators has been yielding positive results.

While assuring the people that the apex bank would spare no effort towards ensuring the stability of naira, Salam-Alada explained that the stability of the value was the key for investors, who were coming into the country for the projection of their investment.

According to him, “The panelists may not have been aware, a lot has been going on regarding all the associated issues, which we are dealing with. Nobody can be more concerned about this than Central Bank of Nigeria. Why, the Institute that put this together also, is a child of the parliament, its ancillary to the Parliament and the parliament has donated certain powers to Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Section 2 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 sets out the mandate of the Central Bank and one of it is that, we issue legal tender currency and management of foreign reserve to ensure the value of that legal currency, which is the naira.

“You can see that these three things are inter-twin. Nigerian populace has come to ascribe the value of the currency to just the activities of the Central Bank, forgetting the most important part, which is the fiscal part of it. So, these are the things the CBN has been doing.

“It’s when you manage liquidity that you can also impact the value of the currency itself. And in doing most of the things we do, apart from what is statutory, there are other fallout of those statutory powers and that’s collaboration with other agencies of government.”

On his part, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. Saidu Abdullahi,disclosed that the lawmakers would meet with the apex bank to interrogate various intervention programmes initiated by it.

Abdullahi expressed concern over the foreign exchange crisis and huge fund being used for the payment of under recovery.

While affirming that the country was in a very dire situation financially and was in need for deliberate policy to ensure price stability and effective foreign exchange management, the lawmaker stressed the need to measure the performance of CBN in terms of achieving their set out objectives.

Earlier, in his remarks, NILDS Director General, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, while applauding the contributions of the BDCs to economic development, stressed the need for a paradigm shift by ensuring diversification of the country’s economy.

He noted that exchange rate policy remained one of the most important indices that shapedeconomic growth, especially, for developing countries.

“With the increasing globalisation, varying factor endowment and the compelling needs to engage in trans-border exchanges, exchange rate has become indispensable in international economic transactions. Most developing countries such as Nigeria depend on import of machineries, spare parts and other finished goods for capital development and consumption purposes.

“These require foreign exchange reserves for build-up to ensure that panic measures are not resorted to when foreign exchange receipts dwindles or when there is disequilibrium in the foreign exchange market caused by inadequate supply of foreign exchange reserve,” the DG added.

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