As the cryptocurrency controversy rages, the Senate on Thursday opted to invite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to brief it on the opportunities and threats of the scheme to the country’s economy and security.
The Senate in a resolution during plenary on Thursday mandated its Committees on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; ICT and Cybercrimes, as well as Capital Market to invite the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to brief them.
The resolution followed a motion by Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West Senatorial District), supported by Tokunbo Abiru (APC Lagos East Senatorial District).
On February 5, 2021, the CBN warned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Nigerians to desist from transacting in/and dealing in cryptocurrencies within the country.
in a circular reiterating its February 28, 2018 warning to banks and other financial institutions against virtual currency operations in the country, the CBN restated its opposition to cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria.
The apex bank warned Nigerian banks and Nigerians against trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripples, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, etc and other exchanges as NairaEx within the country, because they were not licensed or regulated by the CBN.
In justifying its decision, the CBN said dealers and investors in all kinds of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria are not protected by law, warning that investors and consumers risk losing money without any legal redress in the event collapse or close of business.
But in his motion on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, Senator Adeola said a further clarification on the issue was necessary to give Nigerians who may not be conversant with cryptocurrencies some information on the system.
In his motion, Senator Adeola noted that in the last five years, Nigerians have been transacting with cryptocurrencies valued at over $500 million.
Although banning cryptocurrencies might be good because of the challenges it has presented, the lawmaker said the reality remained that it would not take it away from the country.
“I am strongly against the outright ban of this medium of exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). What the CBN should be telling Nigerians are the regulations put in place to regulate the activities of the operators.
“All over the world, these cryptocurrencies are regulated. The operators of this so-called currency are everywhere.
“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.” – Senator Adeola said.
For Senator Abiru, even the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) has recognized cryptocurrency as a financial asset they need to regulate, adding that the major stakeholders should be invited to a public hearing on the matter.
In his contribution Senator Sani Musa said cryptocurrency has become a worldwide system of transaction, noting that the challenge was that the technology deployed makes regulation very difficult, as one cannot even identify who owns what.
“Bitcoin has made our currency almost useless or valueless. If we have an economy that is very weak and we cannot regulate cryptocurrency in Nigeria, then I don’t know how our economy would be in the next seven years,” he said.
In his contribution, Senator Biodun Olujimi said Nigeria did not create Cryptocurrency and so can neither kill it nor make it work for our economy.
He said those investing in the scheme are doing great business with it and are getting result, adding that Nigeria cannot afford to immune itself from the business.
“What we can do is ensure bad people must not use it. This motion is most important to us. The time has come for us to harmonize all the issues concerning cryptocurrency” Senator Olujimi said.
Before adjourning plenary till Tuesday, February 16, the committee was asked to report back with its findings within two weeks.