The Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele has basically endorsed the activities of state security agencies who have in the past few weeks gone after black market operators. The CBN Governor in his monetary policy communique briefing on Tuesday said the States Security Agents “have the right” to arrest anyone seen illegally “trafficking” forex on the streets of Lagos.
This comment by the CBN basically puts buyers and sellers of forex on the streets of Lagos, Abuja and any other major roads in Nigeria at risk of being arrested and locked up in jail. The CBN Governor also did state that it was not illegal for Nigerians to keep dollars in their house or accounts.
The CBN in June introduced a flexible exchange rate policy that was meant to introduce a market determined forex policy which analysts had opined will effectively end the activities of black market operators. However, the CBN’s willingness to retain the exchange rate within a band not exceeding N400 has meant that black market operations continue to thrive as they meet the growing demand of forex sellers who are in need of price discovery and sellers buyers who are fast losing faith in the naira.
Black market operators have been selling forex on the streets of major cities in Nigeria for decades unhindered catering to businesses, individuals and even government officials. They are mostly funded by BDC operators, rogue banks and retail sellers. Despite the attacks by State Security Agencies, no one has been officially prosecuted and they are still seen transacting in major street corners without fear of being arrested.