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Nigerian Senators Blast Central Bank For Its Crypto Ban

Last updated: | 2 min read

Following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) clampdown on banks facilitating crypto investments, a number of the country’s senators have voiced their outrage at the bank, calling on the Nigerian regulators to facilitate the further adoption of cryptocurrencies across the country. The CBN Governor is now slated to appear before the Senate’s committees to explain the bank’s stance on cryptocurrencies.

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As reported, in its February 5 letter to banks and other financial institutions, the CBN said it wished to “remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited,” requesting them to “identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges … and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the Senate of Nigeria, the parliament’s upper chamber, Senator Solomon Adeola from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said he was “strongly against the outright ban of this medium of exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria. What the CBN should be telling Nigerians are the regulations put in place to regulate the activities of the operators.”

“I would indulge this Senate to allow the regulators also to be invited so that they can also tell the Committees their own position concerning the operation of cryptocurrency in Nigeria,” Adeola added.

The senator was backed by his party colleague Tokunbo Abiru who stated that, over the past five years, Nigerians have traded in more than USD 500m worth of cryptocurrencies.

“Even our Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also recognized cryptocurrency as a financial asset they need to regulate. What we should do is to invite the major stakeholders to a public hearing,” said Abiru, who was previously Group Managing Director and CEO of Nigeria’s Polaris Bank.

(The SEC has suspended previously announced plans to regulate cryptocurrencies, until those dealing in them are able to open bank accounts in the West African nation, Bloomberg reported today.)

Biodun Olujimi from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supported the ruling party senators by stating:

“We didn’t create cryptocurrency and so we cannot kill it and cannot also refuse to ensure it works for us. These children are doing great business with it and they are getting [results] and Nigeria cannot immune itself from this sort of business.”

Following the debate, the Senate has decided to mandate its Committees on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, ICT and Cybercrimes, and Capital Market to invite the CBN Governor for a briefing on the risks and opportunities related to cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, the senators’ criticism of the CBN’s actions has pushed the central bank to issue another statement in which it claimed the February 5 circular “did not place any new restrictions on cryptocurrencies”.

This said, the bank admitted it “has no comfort in cryptocurrencies at this time and will continue to do all within its regulatory powers to educate Nigerians to desist from its use and protect our financial system from activities of fraudsters and speculators.”
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