The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday besieged the Wuse Zone 4 axis, the bureau de change trading hub in Abuja. This is part of an effort to stabilize the nation’s currency which is on a downward spiral, depreciating against the dollar.
Africa report quoted a statement from an anonymous EFCC Operative who said, “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,”. The official did not have the agency’s permission to speak on the matter.
According to the report, the raid was prompted after the anti-graft agency received intelligence that some individuals were buying American dollars in large quantities, a move geared towards creating a scarcity of dollars and further sinking the naira.
The Africa Report said the official also revealed that the anti-graft agency acted on intelligence that some forces with massive naira inflow have mobilized resources and are busy buying up available foreign currencies, especially the U.S. Dollar, to either hoard or smuggle the same out of Nigeria.
Also, the EFCC operatives had been dispatched to major airports across the nation to monitor activities of bureau de change operators and anyone seeking to purchase dollars for foreign travels.
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 criticized as crude and uncivilized by Nigerians. In 2016, the government deployed workers to cut down trees around Zone 4 in order to dissuade currency traders from finding shelters.
Recall that the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has been initiating measures and policies geared towards arresting the situation. Recently, he said;
“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.
Meanwhile, the naira exchange rate against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters window was N164 when Mr. Emefiele became the CBN governor in March 2014. It is N430 to a dollar as of Wednesday, while in the parallel market, it weakened from N180 to a dollar in 2014 to N718 on Friday.
Federal lawmakers summoned Mr. Emefiele this week, expressing worries the naira could fall as low as N1,000 per dollar by year’s end.