Human rights campaigner and senior lawyer Femi Falana has requested information from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on actions taken to curb the country’s expanding practise of exchanging goods and services in foreign currencies.
Falana made the demand in a letter addressed to the CBN secretary dated May 24, 2022.
The naira has continued to depreciate swiftly against the dollar; according to the senior lawyer, with over N600 being exchanged on the parallel market.
During the party primaries, he criticised the central bank for permitting the “dollarization” of the Nigerian economy.
Dollarisation is the practise of using the US dollar in addition to or instead of a country’s indigenous currency.
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Politicians who are buying up available dollars in the market to bribe party officers; and delegates for the primary elections, according to Falana, have exacerbated the naira’s depreciation.
He used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to alert the CBN that it had seven days to give him the sought information.
“On March 24, 2015, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele frowned at the growing practice of trading goods; and services in foreign currencies instead of the naira in Nigeria,” the letter reads.
“In particular, Mr. Emefiele said that, ‘the official currency for doing business in Nigeria remains the naira. Collecting rents or school fees in dollars in Nigeria is illegal. We like to advise those involved in these practices to desist from them; because CBN would very soon begin to go after them.’
“But for reasons best known to the members of the Board of the CBN; the devaluation of the naira via dollarisation has been allowed to continue unabated.
“The financial crisis has been compounded by some politicians who are involved in buying up available dollars in the market to compromise party officers; and delegates as well as administrative and judicial officers.
“Thus, due to the criminal conduct of such politicians and other interest groups involved in collecting dollars for goods and services in the country; the naira is currently exchanging for over N600 to a dollar in the so-called black market.
“In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to request information on the measures adopted by the CBN to halt the growing practice of trading goods; and services in foreign currencies instead of the naira in Nigeria.
“As this request is made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011; you are required to furnish me with the requested information not later than seven days upon the receipt of this letter.”