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Did EFCC Operatives and Bureau De Change Operators Exchange Gunshots in Abuja?

On the 20th of February, 2024, a X (formerly Twitter) handle @Morris_Monye posted that there was a gun shoot-out with BDCs (Bureau De Change) operators in Abuja. The statements reads in full;

“EFCC went with guns to BDCs in Abuja to rescue Naira as per Naira was held hostage by terrorists?”

“This happened real (sic) life. I’m not making this up.

“There is actual video of EFCC and BDC operatives exchanging gunshots. As per Wild Wild West.

“What a movie I’ve found myself in this country.”

The post has generated over 942,300 views, 7,600 likes, 3,400 retweets, 481 comments and 561 bookmarks.

The claimed video was attached there on the post by a handle @ikecoolblood in the comment section.

The Nigerian Naira has been facing significant challenges against the US dollar, with the exchange rate fluctuating and causing economic difficulties for the country. The current exchange rate as of February 22, 2024, is approximately 1 USD to 1,882.30 NGN.

Bureau De Change (BDC) operators play a significant role in the exchange rate of the Nigerian Naira to the US dollar. BDCs offer several advantages, including convenient access to foreign currency, competitive exchange rates, quick and efficient transactions, accessibility, diversification of currency services, hedging, and risk management, among others.

However, BDCs can also contribute to the depreciation of a country’s currency, such as the Nigerian naira, especially when US dollars are scarce. BDCs often participate in speculative activities, buying foreign currency when they anticipate its value will rise and selling it when they expect it to fall. These speculations can put additional pressure on the naira, leading to its depreciation. When US dollars are scarce in the market, BDCs and individuals may compete to buy it, driving up its price and leading to a weaker naira. BDCs operate in the parallel market, and their rates can sometimes be higher than the official exchange rate, leading to a perception of instability in the currency, further eroding confidence in the naira.

The CBN has introduced policies to regulate the activities of BDCs and ensure compliance with set regulations in the interest of the financial system and economy. Due to the stifling currency crises and its impact on the Nigerian economy, iVerify Nigeria is prompted to subject the claim to a verification process to ascertain if truly the Economic Financial Commission had a shoot-out with the BDC operators at Wuse zone 4 in Abuja on the said date.

Claim

EFCC and BDC operators exchanging gunshots in Abuja

Rating Justification

iVerify Nigeria through a keyword search obtained a news report from the Daily Trust that, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, spoke through Zakari Mijinyawa the head of strategic communications in the Office of the National Security Adviser in Abuja, on Tuesday the 20th of February, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised a 7,000-man special task force across its 14 zonal commands to clamp down on dollar racketeers.

He said, “In a concerted effort to safeguard Nigeria’s foreign exchange market and combat speculative activities, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are joining forces to address challenges impacting the nation’s economic stability.

In a statement retrieved from the Guardian, it was learnt that the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, (EFCC) raided and arrested over 50 illegal Bureau De Change operators in Wuse Zone 4 Abuja, on Monday.

In a statement issued by EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewole, he said the anti-graft agency was going after “unlicensed money changers.”

“Unlicensed operators are behind the exchange rates crisis in this country. Those who are licensed would be guided by the rules and regulations of federal authorities.”
“So, what we’re doing is to go after the unlicensed money changers. It is to separate those who are legitimate BDC operators from the criminal speculators. We need to know where we stand in how we manage our exchange rates.” Mr Oyewale said.

A keen look into the attached video, iVerify Nigeria observed that the scene is a massive arrest. Even though the antigraft agents were seen dispersing firearms to the air, to disperse the crowd, the BDCs were not seen to be responding with guns, instead, they fled while 50 people were arrested. Therefore, there was no exchanging of gunshots as claimed. There were also no casualties on either side to suggest there was an exchange of gunshots.
Conclusion:
With the aid of searches done by iVerify Nigeria, the claim that EFCC and BDC operatives exchanged gunshots in Abuja is misleading. The incident is part of the operation of the EFCC to clamp down on illegal BDCs operators and about 50 illegal operators were arrested from the special operation. And, no casualties of gunshot wounds or even stray bullet incidents.