Nigeria inflation falls to new 5-year low of 7.8 pct

A men selling peppers wait for customers at the local market in Suleja town on the outskirts of Nigeria's federal capital Abuja July 29, 2010. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria consumer inflation fell to a fresh 5-year low of 7.8 percent in October, the statistics bureau said on Wednesday, driven by falling food prices as harvesting begins in Africa's most populous nation.

The figure was down slightly from 8 percent in September.

Food inflation fell to 9.2 percent last month, down marginally from 9.4 percent in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

"Food prices continued to trend lower for the third consecutive month as a result of the harvest season that traditionally begins in July of the year," it said.

"The harvest has weighed on prices in the bread and cereals, meat, fish, and dairy classes."

Lower inflation for several months now has added to pressure on the central bank to slash rates for the first time in two years and loosen tight liquidity conditions.

The bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will meet next week to determine rates. The bank expects inflation to remain below its single-digit target throughout 2014, but it is unlikely to loosen its stance.

Central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said last month that the central bank had lowered its inflation target as prices hover at 5-year lows to a range of 6-9 percent, from the current target of keeping it under 10 percent.