CBN building

OBINNA EZUGWU

AbokiFX, an online foreign exchange rate website, has said it will temporarily suspend rates on all its platforms pending the resolution of issues with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN is currently investigating the website, with its governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele accusing it of economic sabotage, while tending to blame it for rapid fall in the value of naira against the dollar and other leading currencies.

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

“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 a huge profit which he withdraws through an ATM in London,” he had said.

“It is economic sabotage and we will pursue him, wherever he is, we will report him to international security agencies, we will track him, Mr. Oniwinde, we will find you, because we cannot allow you to continue to conduct an illegal activity that kills our economy.”

Responding to CBN’s move against it, AbokiFX in a statement posted on social media on Friday, said it was suspending operations and that the decision “sincerely hopes the suspension will lead to the Naira appreciation from Next week.”

Continuing, the statement said, “AbokiFX has taken the decision today, the 17th of September 2021, to temporarily suspend rate updates on all our platforms, until we get better clarity of the situation.

”Final rates have been posted this evening but the abokiFX news section and the crypto rates section will still be active,” they said.

The statement said AbokiFX doesn’t trade foreign exchange, but was founded in 2014 as a research and information service company, to conduct research and gather data on the parallel market rates.

“AbokiFX does not trade FX, which we have always maintained in our emails and social media platforms.

“Neither do we have the power to manipulate the rates, we do not create the rates,” they explained.

The statement added that the platform collated data for years before it started publishing, citing companies using its data for internal and external audits as well as planning and budgeting.

According to it, it publishes sourced data from the streets of Lagos, “The rates are sourced and carefully collated.”

The website also added that during the FX crises of 2017, when the Naira appreciated to over N500/$1, it was also accused of manipulating parallel market rates.

“2021 has been a similar scenario with the Naira depreciating and we have published what we have been given, which has led some to believe we are manipulating the market,” the statement said.

On allegations against the platform’s founder, the statement said the allegations were yet to be confirmed and that it had not received any communication from any government body; neither are the platform’s bank accounts closed as propagated by the media.

“We sincerely hope this suspension will lead to the Naira appreciation from next week,” the website said in the statement.

“With our decision to temporarily suspend online rates publication, we are aware that there will be limited visibility of parallel rates information which will impact decision making for many,” the statement noted.