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CBN blocks accounts of suspected smugglers, begins investigations


Publisher, Thisday Newspapers, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena (Left); Founder, Zenith Bank Plc., Mr. Jim Ovia; Chairman, Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Chairman, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and founder, Stanbic IBTC Plc., Mr. Atedo Peterside, during the “CBN Going for Growth, a Consultative Roundtable with the CBN Governor” at The George Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, yesterday.

• Dangote Backs Move, Queries Lingering Power Woes
• Sanwo-Olu Seeks More Support For Development Of Lagos

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday, said it had blocked accounts of identified smugglers, as well as commenced investigations to ascertain their culpability in what it described as economic sabotage.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who made the disclosure, on the sidelines of a consultative roundtable tagged: “Going For Growth” in Lagos, said smugglers and dumpers have been the major saboteurs of the economy.

The move may have kicked off the apex bank’s efforts to make good its threat of going after smugglers, particularly of 43 items that can be produced locally, which it slammed “Not Valid for Foreign Exchange. Emefiele said: “In due course, we would come out with the names of companies that have been identified, as we want to be sure and come out with credible facts that are not deniable.

“We have already blocked accounts of some in the textile, rice and palm oil industries. We are now investigating those accounts, and as information becomes clearer and we see that they committed the offence, we would go to the next round, which is forbidding all banks from banking with them.“We have decided to deal with them, but in our own way. We would use the instrumentality of being the regulator and head of banking system to get the details of these smugglers, investigate their accounts and if culpable, we would not only block the accounts, but close them, including those of their promoters.”

He said the programme, which attracted private sector leaders, was necessary as part of final preparation for the bank’s scheduled release of another five-year agenda for Lagos State Gorvernor.According to him, it was meant to get the thoughts of private sector players, as the engine of economic growth, on what CBN should be doing in the next five years to support economic growth.

Nigeria’s leading entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote, said the apex bank’s new direction of intensifying the fight against smuggling was welcome, as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) seemed to be overwhelmed by smugglers’ activities.He lamented that Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, particularly the Republic of Benin, have made the country’s efforts at curbing smuggling more difficult.

He noted that Nigeria’s problem was not about conversation, but implementation, wondering why the lingering power crisis has continued for 18 years without remedy.He said: “Government needs to build capacities, particularly infrastructure, to ensure there are more tax payers, instead of relying only on oil.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said since the state contributes about 30 per cent of the nation’s growth, it should be given needed support in the areas of infrastructure, health and education.He urged the country to emulate Ethiopia and Rwanda’s determination and commitment to driving high growth, against all odds.


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