Sunday, August 14, 2022

EFCC raids Abuja bureau de change operators to save naira

Similar operations conducted by security agencies were heavily criticised as crude and uncivilised by Nigerians.

• July 29, 2022
EFCC officers/Naira and Dollar
EFCC officers/Naira and Dollar

In an effort to stabilise the nation’s plummeting currency, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday besieged the Wuse Zone 4 axis, the bureau de change trading hub in Abuja.

 “Today, 29 July, we stormed Wuse Zone 4, Abuja, home to most bureau de change operators in Abuja in what was a covert operation to dislodge currency speculators who are alleged to be massively mopping up available foreign currencies,” an EFCC official disclosed to the Africa Report. The official sought anonymity as they did not have the agency’s permission to speak on the matter.

The raid was prompted after the anti-graft agency received intelligence that some individuals were buying American dollars in large quantities, a move projected to create scarcity of the green and further sink the naira.

The Africa Report cited the official as further stating that the anti-graft agency acted on intelligence that some forces with massive naira inflow have mobilised resources and are busy buying up available foreign currencies, especially the U.S. Dollar, to either hoard or smuggle the same put of Nigeria.

The outlet also said EFCC operatives had been dispatched to major airports across the nation to monitor activities of bureau de change operators and persons seeking to buy out the dollars for foreign trips.

A spokesman for the EFCC did not return a request seeking comments about the raid, including the outcome of similar operations conducted in the past and heavily criticised as crude and uncivilised by Nigerians. In 2016, the government deployed workers to cut down trees around Zone 4 in order to dissuade currency traders from finding shelters.

Governor Godwin Emefiele has spent years blaming BDC operators and purported speculators for the downward trend of the national currency. As of Wednesday, the naira was N710 to the American dollar.

In an attempt to further restrict the flow of forex at the parallel market, the banking sector regulator threatened to arrest and prosecute Nigerians using naira to buy dollars last week.

“For those taking money from banks to buy dollars, it is illegal to do so. If the security agencies hold you, you will know the implication of that,” Mr Emefiele said at a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Lagos.

Naira against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters window has decreased from N164 when Mr Emefiele became the CBN governor in March 2014 to N430 to a dollar on Wednesday.

In the parallel market, it weakened from N180 to a dollar in 2014 to N710 on Wednesday. Federal lawmakers summoned Mr Emefiele this week, expressing worries the naira could fall as low as N1,000 per dollar by year’s end.

Citizens have continued to bewail the naira’s free fall and blamed it on the incompetence of Mr Emefiele in handling the nation’s legal tender. He, however, denied lacking the ability to resolve the crisis, urging Nigerians to be patient with him and let his policies saturate the economy.

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