House Calls for Suspension of CBN Policy on BDCs

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Unimpressed with the details of its new policy on the operations of Bureux De Change (BDCs), the House of Representatives yesterday kicked against the new requirements as stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for BDC operators in the country.

The lower chamber also set the ball rolling to enact a law that would provide for the lawful management of properties confiscated and forfeited by fraudulent Nigerians.

The House, prompted by a motion moved by Ibrahim Shehu Gusau (PDP, Zamfara), directed the apex bank to suspend the policy just as it invited the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to appear before its banking and currency committee to provide "full brief on the policy somersault".

According to Gusau, the CBN has raised the minimum capital requirement for the operation of BDCs in Nigeria from N10 million to N35 million.

He noted that the mandatory cautionary deposit was equally raised from N3 million to N35 million, which shall be deposited in a non-interest yielding account in the CBN along with the licensing fee, which was also increased from N500,000 to N1 million, adding that the annual renewal fee was also increased from N10,000 to N25,000, while the application fee of N100,000 remained unchanged.

Already, some banks like Zenith Bank have sent out notices to their customers intimating them of the new policy, preparatory for its full implementation.

The motion got the support of many lawmakers. Hon. Asita Honourable (APC, Rivers) described the new policy as "not only super-elitist", but one "intended to create more unemployment in a section of the country."

He emphasised that: "It's discriminatory. In fact, it'll increase Boko Haram killings."

Hassan Saleh (PDP, Benue) dismissed the policy as insensitive, saying it has the potential of worsening the unemployment situation in Nigeria.
Expressing what might appear to be neutral views, Hon. Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi), Nadu Karibo (PDP, Bayelsa) and Friday Itula (PDP, Edo) were of the view that the CBN should be allowed to take decisions that would better the country's economy.

Meanwhile, the forfeiture bill which passed the second reading yesterday seeks "to make comprehensive provisions for the confiscation, forfeiture and management of properties derived from unlawful activities".

Sponsored by House Leader Mulikat Akande-Adeola (PDP, Oyo), the bill would be the first of its type.

According to her, there have been concerns by Nigerians over the fate of seized properties, which are sometimes left to rot without being put to good use.

She also noted that often, the whereabouts of monies and structures confiscated by authorities from corrupt officials are not accounted for, thus the need for the bill which aims to provide a coordinated process of managing the properties.

She explained that when passed, the law would enable synergy between anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and other related agencies in the fight against corruption in the country.

In her contribution, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejiocha (PDP, Abia) said the bill's consideration came at the appropriate time as it would checkmate the subsisting practice of mismanaging forfeited assets.

However, Hon. Samson Osagie (APC, Edo) cautioned the House "not to place the cart before the horse" by passing the bill, without considering the implications of such a law.

"I want to ask: when will such seizure or confiscation be done? Is it before the trial or after, because individuals are hounded by security and their belongings seized even before charged to court," he inquired.
The bill was unanimously adopted and referred by House Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to the justice committee for further works.

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