CBN vows to punish smugglers of banned items

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by Charles Okonji

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed its willingness to severely deal with the smugglers of the items on the list of prohibited import, which are indiscriminately found not only in the Nigerian markets, but on every nook and cranny of the country.

These economic saboteurs, our correspondent learnt, would face the long arm of the law as the apex bank tightens the noose around the culprits.

A highly placed source at the CBN who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue confided in our correspondent that the CBN is at the concluding stage of investigation and would soon name and shame the culprits.

The Nation recalls that the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele had recently announced that the bank had blocked the accounts of some smugglers sabotaging Nigeria’s economy in the textile, rice and palm oil industry.

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According to the source, “The CBN governor is very furious about the continued activities of the economy saboteurs. Smuggling and dumping had sabotaged economic policies of this county for so long.”

Emefiele had earlier stated that these illicit activities perpetrators are the worst enemies of the Nigerian economy, adding that the bank would not relent until the major actors are brought to book.

According to him, “In due course, we will come up with the names of those identified but we want to be sure that we have come up with something that is credible and that you cannot deny. At this stage, we have already blocked the accounts of some in the textile, rice and palm oil industries.
“We are investigating those accounts and as information becomes clearer and as we can clearly say they have committed the offence, we will go to the next round which is to forbid any Nigerian banks from opening any account with them. Nigeria is very good at making brilliant economic policies, but we have identified smugglers and dumpers as those who sabotage these policies and we will deal with them. In our strategy, we will not bother ourselves because there is an agency of government responsible for border control.”

It could be recalled that the Federal Government recently announced the discontinuation of forex provision for importers of textile materials in the country, which automatically makes it a criminal offence for the importers to access forex from government approved agencies and sources.

The policy is expected to revive the Cotton, Garment and Textile sector, as the old way of providing Forex for importers by government is not improving the standard of the textile sector, neither is the duty on textile effective to stop the increase in importation.

CBN boss further disclosed that the policy aims at repositioning the sector for job creation and economic growth, adding that the old approach contributed to the closure of about 180 textile mills in the country.

“Nigeria’s dependence on textile importation led to the shut-down of many textile companies which, in turn, caused retrenchment in the textile industry,” Emefiele emphasised.

He regretted that Nigerians are still in the act of importing palm oil, rice, corn and other farm produce.

He warns that the already troubled economy would not regain stamina if these economic saboteurs are not stopped.

He stressed that the efforts of the government through Anchor Borrowers Fund is already yielding results, adding that these economic detractors should not scuttle the progress made so far.

Emefiele lamented that continued indulgence in such activity would not only impoverish the country but would also keep making the teaming youths jobless, while creating jobs for other countries.

According to him, the apex bank would continue to support local cotton farmers through the ABP to enable them meet the needs of the local textile industry.

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