Since the first quarter of 2020, Nigeria has faced an exchange rate crisis triggered by the drop in oil prices. It started after two of the world’s largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia, disagreed on how to proceed concerning oil supply cuts, which triggered a price war that pushed oil prices to crash to as low as under zero dollars.

In March 2020, the world fully became aware of the existential threat that was the Covid-19 pandemic, which has since affected millions of people globally and killed hundreds of thousands. These twin events have had a telling effect on Nigeria’s economy. As an economy highly dependent on crude, the oil price war meant Nigeria earned less from crude oil sales cascading to an even larger problem – Forex.

With oil prices down, pressure on Nigeria’s exchange rate grew, leading to speculations of a devaluation to reflect the true value of the naira. Thus began one of the most significant deluges of policy pronouncements and flip-flops on the management of Nigeria’s foreign currency.

READ: Nigeria to post bigger contraction in Q3, as PMI deeps further

In this tracker, Nairametrics collates a timeline of all the forex-related policy decisions and denials that have occurred since March 2020. This timeline is updated regularly as new information becomes available.

September 17, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria, Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the apex bank in partnership with commercial banks will go after Nigerians who bought dollars with the pretence of traveling abroad.

According to him, the bank will find the people and ensure they refund the dollars (PTA/BTA) they bought only to cancel the tickets.

While responding to questions after the MPC meeting on Friday, September 17, 2021, referred to Mr Olumide Oniwinde, the owner of AbokiFX as an illegal FX dealer who will be prosecuted for endangering the Nigerian economy.

AbokiFX is a website that publishes the parallel market exchange rate of the Naira against other currencies of the world on a daily basis.

According to the governor, Mr Olumide Oniwinde started AbokiFX operation in 2015 and has since milked the economy by taking a position, while manipulating the exchange rate.

He stated that, “The CBN act section 2, does make it clear that only the Central Bank can determine the value of the naira, and yet a single individual living in England continues to manipulate the exchange rate and make huge profit which he withdraws through an ATM in London.”

September 08, 2021

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, granted the request of Bamboo Systems Technology Limited and Bamboo Systems Tech. Ltd., to temporarily unfreeze their accounts.

The order from the court follows the filing of an application by both firms asking for a variation of the order made by the court to allow the companies have access to its funds to pay rent and workers’ salaries.

August 21, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed banks to place a post-no-debit restriction on the bank accounts of 18 companies.

Although no official reason was given by the CBN for the action, the list of companies provided by the apex bank shows that the affected accounts belong to bureau de change firms, construction firms, property companies, investment firms, others.

The implication of the post-no-debit restriction means that all debit transactions including with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and cheques, on these accounts, have been blocked, although the accounts can still receive funds.

August 17

A federal high court in Abuja granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze accounts of six fintech companies.

The apex bank said it is investigating “illegal foreign exchange trading” by the fintech companies. It sought the court injunction to freeze their account details for 180 days pending the completion of investigations.

The accounts include Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited OPNS, Chaka Technologies Limited, CTL/Business Expenses, and Trove Technologies Limited.

The CBN alleged that Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Chaka Technologies Limited and Trove Technologies Limited were complicit in operating without license as asset management companies “and utilizing FX sourced from the Nigerian FX market for purchasing foreign bonds/shares in contravention of the CBN circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/012, dated July 01, 2015.”

July 27, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria has hit at the Bureau De Change (BDC) for illegal forex trading and will henceforth discontinue the sale of forex to the Bureau operators in Nigeria.

The governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele made this known while addressing the press during the MPC briefing on Tuesday, 27th July 2021.

The Central Bank also confirmed that they will no longer license new BDC operations in the country and have also halted all current processes for new licenses.

The Governor, while making these announcements, promised to deal “ruthlessly” with Nigerian banks caught in these illegal acts.

April 10, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) received orders from the Federal High Court, Abuja, to freeze 194 bank accounts owned by Bureaux de Change firms and other organisations and to conduct investigations into suspicious activities.

This was disclosed by the apex bank, as it published the three court orders on its website.

The document, which was signed by the Presiding Judge, A.R. Mohammed, empowered the CBN to direct the banks to freeze all the bank accounts for a period of 45 days only, pending the outcome of the investigation.

April 8, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it got an interim order from the Federal High Court, Abuja division, to freeze 11 bank accounts of 5 companies and an individual for 45 days to enable it to conduct investigations into suspicious activities.

The order follows an exparte motion, dated March 12 and filed on March 16, seeking the mandatory order of the court to direct First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, to freeze all transactions on the listed accounts and all other bank accounts of the defendants for 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

March 5, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced a ‘Naira 4 Dollar Scheme’ for diaspora remittances,  which offers recipients of diaspora remittances through CBN’s IMTOs to be paid N5 for every $1 received as remittance inflow.

The scheme takes effect from Monday, March 8, 2021, and ends on Saturday, May 8, 2021.

March 1, 2021

The exchange rate between the naira and the US Dollar depreciated to close at N410.25/$1 at the Investors and Exporters (NAFEX) window, where forex is traded officially. This is as the CBN Governor has suggested that the official exchange rate has been devalued.

Similarly, at the parallel market where forex is traded unofficially, the naira depreciated closing at N482/$1 on Friday, February 26. This represents 0.42% drop when compared to the N480/$1 that it closed on the previous trading day.

January 26, 2021

To streamline supply and ensure there is enough to meet rising demand, the CBN moved to ensure strict monetary control of the forex market threatening to expel exporters who refuse to remit foreign exchange proceeds in the NAFEX market. It also warned against paying diaspora remittances in naira. 

The CBN may have also confirmed the forex pressures businesses are facing in its monetary policy communique of January 26, 2020 when it cited it as a reason for the weak purchasing managers index.

January 22, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a new circular, read the riot act to the International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) as they have threatened to sanction some of them who still facilitate diaspora remittances in naira, contrary to its earlier directive that it must be in foreign currency.

December 02, 2020

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued an update to its recent circular on the management of remittances from diaspora Nigerians. In a circular posted on its website, the apex bank instructed banks to transfer all diaspora remittances to the domiciliary accounts of the beneficiaries or pay the customers in foreign currency.

On payment of foreign transfers, it also clarified that the choice of how the money should be paid, whether transfer or dollar cash withdrawal, was left to the beneficiary of the remittance.

The circular also instructed the IMTOs to ensure the foreign currency was deposited into their corresponding deposit money bank accounts. It also confirmed banks were to pay the dollars to the beneficiaries either via transfers to domiciliary accounts or in cash.

November 30, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the amendment of procedures for receipt of diaspora remittances in an apparent and frantic attempt to improve liquidity in the forex market and reduce the disparity between the black market and official I&E window.

The disclosure was made in a circular issued by the CBN on Monday, November 30, 2020, to all authorized dealers and the general public, and signed by its Director for Trade and Exchange Department, Dr O.S. Nnaji.

In the new amended procedure, CBN stated that beneficiaries of Diaspora Remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) would thenceforth receive such inflows in foreign currency (US Dollars) through the designated bank of their choice.

November 18, 2020

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a new circular, clarified its position on the removal of third parties from buying of foreign exchange routed through Form M, letters of credit, and other forms of payment

While reiterating its earlier directive that destination payment for all forms M, letters of credit, and other forms of payment should be made directly to the ‘Ultimate Supplier of Products,’ it gave conditions that must be met by importers if they chose to use a buying company other than the primary manufacturer.

That was disclosed in a circular with Reference number TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/009, which was issued by the CBN to all authorized dealers and the general public on November 18, 2020, and signed by its Director for Trade and Exchange, Dr. O. S. Nnaji. The circular was a follow-up to one earlier issued by the apex bank on the same subject matter in August 2020.

November 17, 2020

The Federal Government announced plans to make foreign exchange available to petroleum product marketers, in order to make the importation of petrol into the country competitive, reduce the rising cost of the product, and stop the overdependence on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for its importation.

The disclosure was made by the National President of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chinedu Okonkwo, after the oil marketers had met with officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance on the need to make the foreign exchange available for petrol imports.

November 11, 2020

The naira remained stable against the dollar, closing at N465/$1 at the parallel market, as Bureau De Change operators got another round of dollar supply from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

November 03, 2020

The naira remained stable against the dollar, closing at N463/$1 at the parallel market on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as BDCs got another round of dollar supply from CBN.

That was also as businesses that were shut down due to the outbreak of violence in Lagos and some parts of the country during the protests against the special anti-robbery unit (SARS) and police brutality by the Nigerian youths got back to full activity.

October 16, 2020

Banks limited foreign exchange transactions by both individuals and corporate organizations on the unofficial black market to curb speculation.

That was despite the continuation of the protest against the special anti-robbery unit (SARS) by the Nigerian youth which limited movement in major cities across the country, especially Lagos.

October 7, 2020

The CBN sold over $450 million to BDCs since the resumed forex sales on Monday, September 7, 2020. That was expected to inject more liquidity to the retail end of the foreign exchange market and discourage hoarding and speculation.

However, the exchange rate against the dollar failed to sustain the initial gains made, after the CBN announced plans to provide liquidity.

BDC operators urged the apex bank to reconsider the margin allowed for the currency traders, as it was inadequate to meet their expenses.

September 25, 2020

The CBN sold over $200 million to BDCs since the resumed forex sales on Monday, September 7, 2020. It was expected to inject more liquidity to the retail end of the foreign exchange market, and discourage hoarding and speculation.

However, the exchange rate against the dollar failed to sustain the initial gains made, after the CBN announced plans to provide liquidity.

BDC operators urged the apex bank to reconsider the margin allowed for the currency traders, as it was inadequate to meet their expenses.

September 12, 2020

The World Bank expressed reservations about the Foreign Exchange measures rolled out by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The multilateral bank urged the CBN to intensify its efforts towards easing the pressure on the country’s FX market.

That was disclosed by the World Bank’s country director, Shubham Chaudhuri, via email to an inquiry by Bloomberg.

Chaudhuri said, “stronger action and a clear commitment from the CBN would go a long way towards facilitating a stronger recovery, despite its recent resumption of dollar sales to the BDCs after a 5-month suspension.”

September 11, 2020

The presidency explained why President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop making available, foreign exchange to importers of fertilizer and food items, despite criticisms from some FX analysts and stakeholders.

It revealed that the move by the president to suspend the allocation of foreign exchange for food and fertilizer imports was an action borne out of patriotism.

The disclosure was made by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, when he appeared as a guest, on Channels Television’s Sunrise Program, on Friday, September 11, 2020.

September 6, 2020

A memo circulating online indicated that the Central Bank had instructed banks to Post-No-Debit on the accounts of 38 companies.

A Post-No-Debit (PND) is basically an instruction to banks not to allow any withdrawal or transfer from the bank account of account owners, essentially blocking the account from outflows. It is usually drastic a measure taken to allow for investigation and possible reclaiming of any illegal inflow into an account.

The CBN did not state why the accounts were flagged, but sources informed Nairametrics that it was due to suspicion of forex infractions.

September 3, 2020

Nigeria’s central bank pumped in $50 million into the FX market on Monday in a bid to test demand and supply and more importantly, the price of naira against the dollar.

$50 million was sold to foreign investors on the spot and forward market in what it termed a “test trade to gauge the level of dollar demand” in the market.

August 28, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) barred operators of Payment Service Banks (PSBs) from accepting foreign exchange deposits and to accept any closed scheme electronic value (airtime) as a form of deposit or payment.

This was disclosed by the apex bank in the reviewed guidelines for licensing and regulations of PSBs released on its website.

August 27, 2020

Nigeria’s Central Bank issued a circular authorizing and instructing dealers to sell forex to end users at N386/$1.

In a circular titled, “Weekly Exchange Rate for Disbursement of Proceeds of International Money Transfer Service Operations” the apex bank detailed the applicable exchange rate of proceeds of IMTOs for the period, August 31, 2020.

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August 26, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) vowed to go tough on exporters who were guilty of forex non-repatriation. It was part of the CBN’s ongoing efforts to resolve the prevalent forex crisis in the country by increasing forex liquidity.

To that end, the CBN directed banks to submit the names, addresses, and Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) of all the exporters who had failed to repatriate their export proceeds. Necessary ‘action’ would be taken against such defaulters, the CBN said in a statement.

The statement further noted that the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, gave the directive on August 25, 2020, while virtually attending a Bankers’ Committee meeting.

READ: CBN says 22 banks to restructure over 35,000 loans due to COVID-19

August 24, 2020

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a circular removing buying agents/companies or any third party from accessing its SMIS forex window through FORM M forex purchases.

In a circular dated August 24, 2020, the apex bank instructed that “Authorized Dealers are herby directed to desist from the opening of Form M whose payment is routed through a buying company/agent or any other third parties” effectively eliminating third parties or middlemen from transacting in forex deals in its official SMIS window.”

READ: What Nigeria may have bargained for with Emefiele’s reappointment

August 6th, 2020

Information on the website of the CBN revealed the apex bank had adjusted the official exchange rate to N380/$1 from N360.1/$1. The adjustment occurred on Thursday, August 6th, 2020.

It suggested the CBN might have unified the exchange rate in line with the promise made by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

July 13, 2020

CBN restricted access for the importation of maize through the official CBN forex window.

It hinged its decision on the need ‘to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase jobs which were lost as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.’

July 3, 2020

CBN reportedly instructed bidders at its Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to increase their bidding price to N380/$1 floor. The SMIS is the market where importers bid for forex using Letters of Credit and Forms M.

The apex bank allegedly informed banks that they would only accept bids from N380/$1 and above, and no longer N360/$1 meaning those who bid lower will not get any forex allocation.

Transaction success in this market is based on bids with those who bid higher than the floor as they are often in an advantageous position to secure forex.

June 23, 2020

The Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, confirmed that the CBN would continue to pursue unification around its Nafex rate. The NAFEX rate is the forex window where Investors and Exporters transact dollars on market-determined prices. The CBN Governor said this at an Investors Conference with the Federal Government of Nigeria by CitiBank.

May 21, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, warned businesses and individuals against patronizing the parallel market, popularly called the black market.

He warned them to stop using black markets for foreign currency exchange, following the liquidity crisis triggered by low oil prices and a shortage of dollars.

READ: Exchange rate depreciates at NAFEX window as forex liquidity drops further by 57%

May 19, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in its quest to stabilize Naira injected funds to the currency market through the Wholesale Secondary Market Interventions.

The auction was earlier put on hold by the CBN due to the COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling foreign exchange reserves standing at less than $34 billion.

READ: Zenith Bank’s Profit After Tax in H1,2020 rises by 16.8% to N103.8 billion

May 18, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tasked industrial conglomerates operating in the country to support efforts of the government to grow the nation’s economy and return it to its green days.

The CBN boss warned that the apex bank would not support the importation of items that could be produced in Nigeria. According to him, the bank could not spend its foreign exchange reserves on what would not boost the economy and generate jobs for Nigerians.

May 10, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) assured foreign investors that repatriating their funds from the country was secured, despite forex related revenue shortages due to the drop from the sale of crude oil globally.

In the statement, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele explained that the apex bank had put in place policies to ensure an orderly exit for those that might be interested in doing so and also urged investors to be patient as such repatriations were processed, owing to the Bank’s policy of orderly exit of investments.

April 29, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) resumed sales of dollars to SMEs that needed foreign exchange for essential imports, as well as Nigerian students in foreign schools who needed to pay their school fees.

According to a brief statement that was signed by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, the apex bank provided over $100 million per week for the two categories of dollar consumers mentioned above.

READ: Covid-19: Timeline of every pronouncement made by Nigeria to support the economy

April 27, 2020

CBN adjusted the exchange rate for import duty payment from N326/$ to N361/$.

With that development, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was directed to effect an increase in duty payable on cargoes imported through the ports.

March 27, 2020

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a note issued to Bureau De Change operators (BDCs) in the country, suspended the sales of foreign currency for two weeks.

However, it did not affect dollar transactions in the Investors & Exporters (I&E) window. Thus, portfolio investors, as well as businesses that still required FX for foreign transactions settlement, could access the I&E window.

March 24, 2020

The CBN announced it was collaborating with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to uncover speculation and would charge such dealers for economic sabotage. The bank added that market fundamentals did not support devaluation.

March 22, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) halted the sale of dollars to the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) by oil companies, including International Oil Companies (IOCs) that operated within the shores of the country.

The apex bank explained that the move to stop the sale of dollars was in line with its commitment to improving foreign exchange supply to the economy as the impact of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic bit harder on the economy.

READ: Nigeria, only oil producing nation that does not benefit from price increase – Sanusi

March 20, 2020

Central Bank of Nigeria devalued its official exchange rate from N307/$1 to N360/$1. The apex bank reflected this change on its website, signaling a confirmation.

March 10, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fined Bureau De Change (BDC) operators over various infractions in the foreign exchange market.

Over 100 BDC operators were fined N5 million each for various infractions in the foreign exchange market.

READ: Report accuses World Bank of ‘toying’ with Nigeria over $1.5 billion loan

March 12, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) debunked speculations making the rounds that suggested that the naira was finally about to be devalued.

According to a statement, the apex bank blamed “unscrupulous players in the foreign exchange market” for spreading the rumour.