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Lockdown: Nigerian Stock Exchange to sustain remote trading as FG exempts Financial System, Money Markets

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will sustain its ongoing remote trading despite a 14-day restriction in Lagos, Ogun and FCT aimed at stemming the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria early this week announced restriction of all movements in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (FCT) for an initial period of 14 days effective 11 pm on March 30, 2020.
Since the outbreak of this pandemic, financial markets, particularly the capital markets around the world have seen levels of volatility that are only comparable to the global financial crisis of 2007/2008.

“The ability of our financial and money markets to continue to operate during this crisis is testament to a well-functioning economy”, said Oscar Onyema, CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

He referred to the statement put out on Monday March 30, 2020 by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria that they have received presidential approval to include the Financial System and Money Markets in the list of exempted services from the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States and the FCT is vital.

Onyema however noted that the Nigerian Stock Exchange is very supportive of these steps, which are aimed at flattening the rising curve of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

Given this new pronouncement on the presidential approval to include the Financial System and Money Markets in the list of exempted services from the lockdown, the Nigerian Stock Exchange said it will sustain its remote trading activities at normal hours and days, in line with the guidance provided by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFEs).

To comply with Government directive, the NSE has activated the second phase of its business continuity plan that will see its essential staff move into a secured accommodation close to the NSE offices with adequate arrangements for healthcare and other matters necessary to their wellbeing.

“Access to our offices will be restricted to these essential staff who will ensure smooth remote trading and provide remote technical support to Dealing Members. We will also continue to provide remote access to listed companies and issuers during this period.

“While we hope for a quick end to this pandemic, we encourage everyone to maintain precautions, take responsibility for others by observing social distancing and practicing personal hygiene. Most importantly, we advise that you comply with guidelines issued by relevant health agencies of government towards curtailing the spread of the virus in our beloved country”, Onyema said.

“Once again, we assure all our stakeholders that The Exchange is open for business remotely. Should you need to engage with us on any matter, please reach out to us via e-mail, X-Issuer, X-Boss, X-Whistle, telephone, our website or any of our other digital and social platforms,” he said.

To maintain the integrity of the stock market and in order for Nigeria to continue to stimulate economic growth, the Bourse activated its business continuity plan on March 23, 2020.

Through this activation, NSE has: continued trading during normal hours and days by providing remote trading access for Dealing Member Firms through FIX Protocol and Virtual Private Network (VPN) platforms; commenced remote working for its non-essential staff nationwide; closed it trading floors nationwide; maintained continuous flow of relevant market information to enable stakeholders make informed investment decisions; and engaged with Government to address market issues raised by COVID-19.

Since the index case was reported on February 27, 2020, Nigeria now has 111 cases as at March 30, 2020. Earlier, the Lagos State Government imposed a seven-day ‘slow down’ of non-essential services in the State, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020.

 

Iheanyi Nwachukwu

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