The Federal Government has proposed to amend the Foreign-Exchange Act to enable the imprisonment of anyone who holds foreign currencies, especially the dollar, for more than 30 days.
This is the latest measure the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria are considering to stem the volatility in the exchange rate and bolster the ailing Naira.
In the new proposals, which were published on the website of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission last week, the CBN is seeking the power to control capital flows and stop people from taking forex out of the country.
According to the draft amendment of the Foreign Exchange Act, anybody holding dollars in cash for more than 30 days risk a jail term for as long as two years or a fine of 20 per cent of the amount.
Regulators should also be able to prevent money being repatriated “in accordance with the terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the central bank from time to time,” the draft states.
The existing law is “narrow in scope and prohibits the seizure, forfeiture or expropriation of imported money by the government without providing for exceptions,” it adds.
The amendments, according to the document, are necessary “for effective monitoring and control, and to ensure probity in foreign exchange transactions in Nigeria.”