The naira hit a record low of 282 naira per dollar on the unofficial market on Monday after the central bank announced that it would stop sales to non-bank foreign exchange operators especially bureaux de change.
Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank of Nigeria governor said foreign reserves stood at around $28 billion compared with $37 billion in June 2014, and that the bureaux were depleting them at a rate of $28.4 million per week.
“This is a huge haemorrhage on our scarce foreign exchange reserves, and cannot continue,” Emefiele told a news conference in the capital Abuja.
The decision to allow commercial banks to accept cash deposits of foreign currency reverses the restriction imposed last year when such deposits were banned to curb currency speculation.
It comes days after a visit by the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, when she told lawmakers that the IMF did not support foreign exchange restrictions.
On 8 January, the naira hedged up slightly against the dollar at the parallel market amid calls for the apex bank to relax its strict foreign exchange policy.
NAN reports that the Naira appreciated by 0.4 per cent on Friday afternoon as it exchanged for N277 against the dollar from N278 it traded for previously.
However, the Naira closed at N197 to the dollar at the official interbank window.