From Uche Usim, Abuja
Following a declaration of war on it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over alleged unwholesome practices in the foreign exchange market, promoters of abokiFX have announced the temporary suspension of rate updates on its online platform.
The company took the decision late Friday night after the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, vowed that the apex bank would deploy all legal arsenal at its disposal to arrest and prosecute the owner of abokiFX, Mr Adedotun Oniwinde, for allegedly feeding fat from a haemorrhaging market it continually manipulates.
The company, in a statement, expressed hopes that its suspension of updates’ publication will lead to naira appreciation from next week.
It added that with its decision to temporarily suspend online rate publication, it was fully aware that there will be limited visibility of parallel rates information which will impact decision making for many.
The company added that it purely provides benchmark parallel rate information which helps guide its users in almost 200 countries across the world.
The statement read: “abokiFX has taken the decision today, the 17 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.
“abokiFX was established in 2014 as a research and information service company, to conduct market research and gather data on the parallel market rates.
“We also wanted to provide some transparency around the parallel market with the availability of information technology.
abokiFX purely provides benchmark parallel rate information which helps guide our users in almost 200 countries across the world. abokiFX does not trade FX, which we have always maintained in our emails and social media platforms.
“Our staff have a daily routine of going to the market to gather rates, as all the BDCs in the country have their rates clearly displayed on their rates board and parallel market rate dealers give the information away freely. All we do is collate all that information and display it on all our platforms daily.
“We do not Trade FX neither do we have the power to manipulate the rates as we DO NOT CREATE the rates.
“We are the only entity in Nigeria that has a full set of parallel rates, right from our inception in 2014 when the exchange rate was trading at N166 to $1. We collated data for years before we started publishing, as we realised the demand increased for our historical data.
“To most users of our platforms, we are just a parallel rates board but to many institutions, ranging from IVY league universities, to global businesses and research centres, we are a key source of data, especially, historical data (almost a decade’s worth of data on parallel rates).
“Companies use our data for their internal and external audits as well as planning and budgeting. We only publish what we source on the streets of Lagos, hence the phrase, Lagos Parallel Rates.
The rates sourced are carefully collated, reviewed and a mean rate is published from the data pool. This explains our three daily updates –morning midday, evening. Sometimes, rates come in late but we have to wait for the full set of rates before they are published, to prevent volatility of rates. None of our data source providers know who we are or what their rates are being used for. This is to avoid any manipulation of rates.
“In 2017, Nigeria experienced an FX crisis and the Naira depreciated to over N500/$1. abokiFX was accused of manipulating the parallel market rates. Once liquidity was injected, the naira appreciated and we published the appreciation which is basically what we do.
2021 has seen 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. Yet no one can complain about our rates deviating +/- 2% from the parallel market rates when they patronise the dealers in the market. If we do not create the rates, how then can we control the rates. Our only sources of income have been our API and advert sales”, the company queried.
On its grouse with Aboki FX, the CBN Governor on Friday said: “We’ve been investigating Aboki FX for two and half years. He lives in the UK but has a Nigerian address. We have detected that he is an economic saboteur. Mr Oniwinde, we will find you.
“Our preliminary investigations show a lot about him. Those who want to sabotage the country and sabotage the efforts of this administration will be dealt with.
“Aboki FX was registered in the UK in 2015. He doesn’t want to name those behind him. He has 25 accounts. Shows illicit activities
“His website is used for manipulation by changing the rate over a given period. We will pursue and get them.
Mr Oniwinde directly benefits from the rates he quotes. How does he get his data? How many BDC staff come to ask for a daily rate? How many BDCs supply him information? In which country does an unlicensed operator determine rates? Why target Nigeria. It’s pure economic sabotage and we will get them.
“CBN Act Section 2 states that only the CBN can determine rates. So, we will not allow this to continue. How does he collect his data. If he doesn’t come out. We will go after him”, Emefiele stated.