The Nigerian Senate has summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele to brief it on the recent ban on cryptocurrency in the country.
According to the upper legislative chamber, its Committees on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, ICT and Cybercrimes and Capital Market will be briefed on the issue by both the CBN governor and Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda.
It explained that the information provided by both regulatory bodies at the briefing would assist the Senate to “determine the opportunities and threats of cryptocurrency on the nation’s economy and security.”
The joint committee was given two weeks to report back to plenary by the Senate President.
CBN’s Crypto Restriction
This new development comes nearly a week after the CBN published a circular which directed financial institutions in the country to block accounts dealing or transacting in Cryptocurrencies.
The new directive caused a string of negative backlash from industry experts and Nigerians on social media. Although the CBN came up with an explanation for the ban, Senator Istifanus Dung Gyang, (Plateau North) and Senator Adetokumbo Mukhail Abiru, (Lagos East) have involved the senate in the matter.
Both senators filed a motion for the body to deliberate on the matter. According to Senator Gyang, the directive of the apex bank was a follow up to its earlier directives in January 2017 and February 2018 which “forbade banks not to use, hold, trade and/or transact in cryptocurrencies.”
He further informed the Senate that the decision of the CBN was said to have been predicated on the need to safeguard the Nigerian economy from the adverse effects of the cryptocurrency regime which are “unregulated digital or virtual currencies that are issued by anonymous entities and secured by cryptography.”
He also added that he was aware that the action and directive of the CBN has attracted sharp reactions from Nigerians and has become a topical subject of national discuss.
An opportunity and a Threat
Despite the harsh words with which the CBN labelled cryptocurrency, the Senate recognized that cryptocurrency has great potentials. According to Senator Gyan, Cryptocurrency is both an opportunity and a threat.
He explained that the Senate has a responsibility to ensure that the nation and citizens do not miss out on the opportunities that Cryptocurrency offers and in the same vein, mitigate and prevent likely consequential effects on the nation’s economy and security.
He is not alone as a majority of the Senate supported the motion.
Lifeline for Cryptocurrency in Nigeria
The recent CBN directive and the reasons provided showed that the apex bank of Africa’s largest economy has no intention of regulating cryptocurrency. However, the latest intervention by the Senate means that there is hope for a turnaround.
The words of Senator Gyan show stronger credence for the positivity crypto has to offer unlike the completely negative look of the CBN. Optimists could take that to mean that at the end of the two weeks the senate president gave the committee, a turn around may surface.
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