A viral claim on social media alleges that the Federal Government (FG) is considering a policy that will result in the conversion of foreign currencies in domiciliary accounts of citizens to Naira. The claim is that the move is part of government’s efforts to stabilise the national currency and increase liquidity in the foreign exchange (FX) market.
The claim originated from a report published by Saturday Punch newspaper on Saturday, February 3, 2024, with the headline: “Operation Rescue Naira: FG considers converting $30bn domiciliary deposits to naira.”
The report, which has been widely shared on Facebook and other platforms, cited an unnamed source who said the government will order the conversion of foreign currencies sitting idly in individuals’ and corporate organisations’ domiciliary accounts to Naira — at a rate to be determined by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The report claimed that the policy is part of the FG’s efforts to address the persistent depreciation of the Naira against major currencies, especially the US dollar, and to boost the country’s foreign reserves.
The CBN, the apex bank and the regulator of the FX market, has denied the claim and described it as fake news. In a statement issued on the same day as the report, the CBN said the allegation is absolutely false and aims to trigger panic in the FX market, which the bank is working to stabilise.
The statement, signed by Sidi Ali, Hakama (Mrs.) Ag. Director, Corporate Communications, read in part:
“This allegation is absolutely false and aims to trigger panic in the foreign exchange market, which the CBN is working assiduously to stabilise, as evidenced by its recent work and policy directions.
“Similar false narratives have been spread about the work of the CBN over the past few months and it is clear that vested interests are determined to sabotage our efforts.
“We want to assure the general public that CBN is working to build confidence and would never do anything to undermine the currency and the economy.
“We, therefore, urge all stakeholders to disregard stories aimed at causing panic in the system and see them clearly for what they are acts of national sabotage.
“We wish to advise, in the strongest terms, against the peddling of false reports that have the potential to be disruptive to the economy. The Bank is the only designated authority for monetary policy changes and will always advise on any policy change(s) before they are brought into operation. The CBN is always open to answer questions about our policies”
Verdict: No Evidence
The claim that the FG is considering converting $30bn domiciliary deposits to Naira has not been substantiated through any documentary evidence. The CBN has refuted the claim and urged the public to disregard it.