Is The Govt And EFCC Turning A Blind Eye To ForexViolations By Banks, Dangote And CBN?

By Bigsam Media

We at Change Vigilantes International have closely followed the ongoing national discussions on the allocation of the scarce foreign exchange earned by the Nigerian government and how the super-rich, particularly the Dangote Group, appears to have been sidetracking the CBN Guidelines on allocation of the scarce official Foreign exchange allocations to banks, apparently with the active participation of the banks and possibly the CBN, and indifference by the government and EFCC.

While lots of gossip often fly through social media without any basis in fact, we were shocked to discover, after looking at the different documents available to us in this alleged illicit transactions foreign exchange allocations, that the allegations appear to be true in fact. We at CVI will like to go on record that this kind of shenanigan in our banking system is NOT the Change we fought for, and it is about time somebody calls out the Banks, CBN, the Dangote Group and the EFCC in what is clearly a collusion to circumvent the laws of the country.

Furthermore, it boggles the mind to discover that the proof of the allegations is not even shrouded in any secrecy, since many of the banks complicit in this illegal transaction are actually bold enough to list the proof of their curious transaction in their monthly declaration of official forex allocations from CBN in various Newspapers publications. In this respect, we refer to the declarations of forex allocations declaration in THISDAY, and other newspapers by First bank (February 16th, 2016, page 11), Access Bank (Thursday, March 31, 2016 page 4) and several other banks where they clearly stated that they allocated different millions of dollars to DANGOTE GROUP for investment in DANGOTE CEMENT CONGO at the official rate! These official rate allocations for investment in Congo Cement is a CLEAR VIOLATION of CBN guidelines, (unless the CBN secretly changed the rules overnight for Dangote) and we are clearly shocked that the EFCC has not thought it fit to investigate any of these publications.

We also have in our possession several correspondences by Dangote Group to Access Bank and First Bank requesting them to transfer millions of dollars at the official rate to their subsidiary in Congo, Liberia and elsewhere outside Nigeria. This again will appear to be illegal under the CBN Guidelines. Documents are attached to this publication.

For those who may not be aware, the long standing CBN rule is that official forex allocations from CBN to banks should NOT be used for investments abroad or for clearing goods in a foreign country’s ports as these banks appear to have done. Those kind of transactions are supposed to be financed by funds from parallel markets. As a matter of fact, the approval letter by CBN that we could lay our hands on clearly stated that those approvals are subject to the funds being sourced from the parallel market, and NOT the official rate makes. Yet, many of these banks listed DANGOT CEMENT CONGO as a direct beneficiary of official forex in their monthly publications of breakdowns. This was ostensibly for direct investment and even payment of port charges in countries such as Congo and Liberia.

These admissions of patent irregularity by the banks as evidenced by their own public notifications in several newspapers, is enough proof that they violated the law in allocating funds for Dangote Cement Congo and our question today is why is the EFCC not looking into this clear violations of the law?

Specifically, we at Change Vigilantes believe that the ongoing debate over Dangote Group’s improper access to Forex at official rates raises the following questions

1. - Why is Dangote Group, with its heavily laundered image of being a pro-Nigerian employer, spending billions of naira in official foreign exchange rate to invest in factories and companies in Congo, Liberia and other African countries when millions of Nigerians at home are unemployed? How is our economy supposed to benefit from investment that creates employment for Congo and Liberia?

2. - If Dangote is really as patriotic as his image makers have made us believe, why is he helping to develop the economies of other countries and creating employment for other countries when over 20 million Nigerian youths are unemployed at home? Really, one must wander what is so special about working in a cement factory that people in Liberia and Congo can provide that workers in Nigeria cannot.

3. - Why should our government be giving Dangote Cement essentially subsidized foreign exchange for investment in Congo when we don’t have enough forex to pay for importation of fuel to power our own economy, with long lines of cars at filling station and long lines of the unemployed?

4. - With people dying for lack of access to dollars at the official rate to treat themselves abroad, and with students dropping out of school abroad because their parents can no longer afford to get the dollars they need to remit for their school fees, why are the richest among us as personified by Aliko Dangote, getting access to these scarce funds at the official rate just to go and invest it in foreign countries, so they can make more money while their fellow citizens die of sickness and unemployment at home?

5. - With the evidence gathered from the newspaper publications clearly showing that some banks, i.e. First Bank and Access Bank, appear to have violated foreign exchange laws of Nigeria by allocating official rate forex to Dangote Group for investment in foreign companies, contrary to CBN guidelines and extant laws, why is the EFCC not wading into this matter?

Really, considering the fact that the richest man in Africa has been a beneficiary of largesse and uncompetitive patronage from practically all governments in Nigeria for the last 16 years, one cannot but wander if EFCC is actually protecting this mogul that seems to have developed a talent for ingratiating itself to any government in power. Is the government of Change now giving one of the biggest pillars behind the past corrupt government a pass when it comes to scrutinizing his activities?

6. - Why are the banks granting forex at official rates to Dangote group for investment in Dangote Cement Congo and in Liberia, and actually publishing those figures in Newspapers, if they did not have the approval of CBN (the documents we have been able to obtain so far show that all CBN special approvals for international remittances to Dangote Group clearly directed that such remittances be funded from parallel funds.? Yet, the publications of First Bank and Access Bank in This Day Newspapers clearly showed that DANOTE CEMENT CONGO were beneficiaries of money at the official rate, and NOT the parallel market as directed by the approvals. This anomaly begs the follow-up questions: Why is CBN not sanctioning these banks? and why is the EFC not investigating this obvious corruption in the system?

7. - Is Dangote above the law or rules of CBN? We have read in many publications where some so-called financial analysts have argued that the Dangote Group is too big to be allowed to fail, and that as one the biggest employers of labour in Nigeria they deserve preferential treatment. We disagree vehemently with this school of thought. On the contrary, we believe that the richest in society have a responsibility to the less fortunate. The richest among us should not be getting preferential treatment to buy dollars to invest in the economies of other countries, while our own citizens are dropping out of school for lack of access to forex, and our sick are dying because they have no access to obtain official forex to treat themselves. The law in any sane society should apply equally to both the rich and the poor and nobody should be above the law.

We believe that most Nigerians, including the undersigned, voted for President Muhammadu Buhari because of his earned reputation for fighting corruption in all its forms. We believed the President when he promised that nobody, and no entity will be spared of any allegations of corruption.

It is time that the President delivers on that promise in the area of foreign exchange allocations and manipulations by our institutions including the Banks and Central Bank.

In a season where we have people dying of lack of access to Forex and long queues at our filling stations due to scarce foreign exchange, it is also time that the President lives up to is reputation for fighting corruption at the highest levels by ordering a public probe into the way forex is being handled in Nigeria

Having fallen in love with our President for his career long stance against corruption, we at Change Vigilantes International, USA cannot understand why Dangote seems to be an exception to this anti-corruption rule of the Government of Change that we all fought for.

It has been several weeks now since these allegations of corruption in the allocation of Forex by the banks have been levelled by many knowledgeable insiders and other international companies like the BUA group, both in newspapers and many social media sites, but so far we have not heard any official explanations from the Banks, the CBN or EFCC. We believe that individual and corporate impunity was supposed to have died with the previous administration, and it is our job as ardent supporters of the Buhari government and the CHANGE it represents to raise the alarm when it becomes obvious that some people appear to be above the law, as it appears in this case of Forex Allocation.

We at Change Vigilantes hereby call on President Buhari to order an investigation into the allegations of corruption in the allocation of official forex by the Banks and the CBN.

In a situation where the difference between the Official Exchange rate and the Parallel Market rate, is more than N100 per dollar, the possibilities of abuse and round-tripping are too obvious to ignore. Also, the temptations for the super-rich and those with access to collude with the banks, and possibly CBN to take advantage of that disparity in exchange rates to further enrich themselves at the expense of the country, is just too much to dismiss these allegations of corruption by many in the country out of hand. We demand an investigation by EFFC now!

The Mission Of Change Vigilantes Organization includes the following: 1. To Assist The Federal And State Governments Of Nigeria Implement The Program Of Positive Change They Promised Nigerians through Public Education, Advocacy, Volunteerism, and Encouragement Of Public Participation in Good Governance; 2. To Protect The Vote Mandate Beyond The Election Cycle By Ensuring That Politicians Do Not Act Contrary To Their Mandates, Published Manifesto And Good Governance Throughout Their Tenures n Government.; 3. To Hold ALL Politicians Accountable For All Election Promises Throughout Their Tenure By Reminding Them Of Their Promises And Helping Them Remain Faithful To Them; 4. To Provide Support And Advocacy For Implementing The Different Progressive Programs Of The Govt In Line With Their Electoral Promises While Opposing Any Actions That Are Contrary To The Promises Made By Politicians At Election Time