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EFCC to act against schools that charge dollars

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has placed international schools that charge tuition fees in dollars and other foreign currencies under surveillance as part of measures to reduce pressure on the naira.

EFCC Director of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, confirmed the development to one of our correspondents on Thursday and said the agency would clamp down on schools and other organizations that collect foreign currencies.

He reiterated that it is illegal for schools, hotels and companies operating in the country to charge for services in foreign currency.

He explained that the 7,000-man special task force against dollar gangsters operating in the EFCC zonal commands was monitoring schools and other organizations that could be involved in the illegality.

In a bid to stem the free fall of the naira against the dollar, the anti-graft agency in February summoned owners of private universities and other schools that charge tuition fees in dollars.

The task force also carried out several raids in Abuja, arresting foreign exchange traders suspected of speculating in the naira.

Concerned about the depreciation of the national currency, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for Economy, Wale Edun, met with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso, and the Chairman of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, to propose solutions to the naira situation. crisis.

Speaking to The PUNCH on Thursday, in response to questions on the agency’s efforts to tackle forex racketeering and stabilize the naira, EFCC spokesperson Oyewale said the task force was set up “to ensure that those who infringe the rules find their way back.” to the right path so that the wrath of the law does not fall on them.”

Oyewale said it was illegal for any company operating in the country to charge for its services in foreign denominations other than the naira, and promised sanctions for any violation of the law.

He said: “The task force should not only monitor naira abuse but also for the entire economy. The EFCC is therefore working to ensure that those who break the rules find their way back to the right path so that the wrath of the law does not fall on them.

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

“Therefore, there is a task force to check it and Nigerians should be happy with it. “It is not just schools and hotels but other entities across the country that are doing this and must return to using the naira as our legal tender.”

He added: “Naira is the symbol of our economy and everything that has to do with the Nigerian economy must be done in naira.”

Asked if schools, hotels and other businesses under surveillance would be punished if they were found violating the law, Oyewale responded: “Certainly, they are aware that we are watching them.”

The National Union of Teachers declared its support for the EFCC over the decision to sanction international schools that make mistakes and charge in dollars.

NUT supports EFCC

The NUT President, Titus Amba, made this known in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja.

He said: “Although I shouldn’t talk about this because these schools are private schools. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that this is Nigeria and if you are going to charge for services, you must do so in the national currency which is the naira.

“That is why we support the EFCC in its mission. “Acts like these are sabotaging the economy, which is why we wholeheartedly support the EFCC and the Federal Government.”

Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Center executive director Auwal Rafsanjani urged the government to review its memorandum of understanding with foreign schools and other companies that require payments in foreign currency, noting that the economy was suffering because of this.

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

“Therefore, we commend EFCC for at least bringing this issue to the public, because in the Memorandum of Understanding they signed with the Nigerian government, there is nowhere where the government allows them to charge in dollars. If something like this happens, then we will have to look to reverse it,” he stated.

The group also called on the government to supervise the operations of all companies that require payments in foreign currency.

Rafsanjani noted: ”Not only foreign schools but also hospitals and real estate. Let the government review all those things, and if there was any fraudulent insertion of payment in dollars, the government should stop it as part of the measures to revitalize the economy and our currency.”

Also intervening in the matter, the National Coordinator of the Nigerian Human Rights Writers Association, Emmanuel Onwubiko, stated that the payment of dollars to foreign-owned institutions was illegal, and urged the EFCC and other relevant agencies to take action against the organizations involved.

He said: “The currency we use in Nigeria is the naira, and there is no reason why a private institution or service provider should charge its customers in a currency denominated in foreign currency because that is illegal.

“In these circumstances, the competent law enforcement authorities must act decisively to put an end to this type of illegality. “It is not something that should be allowed because it also affects the naira, it makes the naira somehow lose its value.”

Onwubiku challenged the EFCC, CBN and other agencies to “wake up to save the naira from collapse.” ”

“It is not something that the government should just sit back and watch, it should ensure that the naira gains respectability in the community of nations,” he insisted.

For his part, the executive director of the African Center for Media and Information Literacy, Chido Onumah, stated that the situation indicates the lack of a regulatory system that controls the activities of foreign schools.

The situation, he said, has also placed a burden on the public school system, urging the government to reinvest in public schools.

The President of the Nigerian Parents and Teachers Association, Haruna Danjuma, explained that the EFFC had the right to decide on such schools.

He said: “I understand that these schools are created for commercial purposes, they are not public schools. As PTA, we have not received any complaints from any parent at any of these schools that they are being charged in dollars. But the Federal Ministry of Education is not aware of all this? Is it okay with them? Will they say they know nothing about it? If EFCC wants to collect them now, no problem, they should do it. “We represent public schools.”