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Nigeria to arrest black-market naira traders to stem decline

14 November 2016, 12:35

Lagos - Nigeria’s intelligence service has been asked to clamp down on money-changers and black-market currency dealers in a bid to defend the naira.

Dealers who trade at an exchange rate weaker than 400 naira per dollar face arrest and prosecution from the State Security Service, according to Aminu Gwadabe, president of the Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria. Foreign-exchange bureaus agreed to “to control the market so we will have sanity” and they have the “backing” of the central bank on the new rates, he said by phone from Lagos, the commercial center.

The naira strengthened to around 400 per dollar on the black market from 460 on Thursday, Gwadabe said.

The naira has been battered by a fall in oil revenue in the last two years, weakening 47 percent against the dollar to around 315 on the official market. Analysts blamed central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele for exacerbating the crisis and creating a dire shortage of foreign exchange by pegging the currency at 197 to 199 against the dollar for 16 months until June, when he allowed a devaluation. Most investors have decided against re-entering the country since then, saying that officials are still manipulating the exchange rate.

Forwards markets suggest the currency will depreciate further. One-year contracts rose 0.1 percent to 442.5 per dollar by 4:07 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital.

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