Senate Invites CBN Gov, SEC DG over Cryptocurrency Ban

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate has summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Lamido Yuguda, to brief it on the opportunities and threats of the crypto currencies on the country’s economy and security following the apex bank’s recent directive stopping all financial institutions from transacting in crypto currencies.

The duo are to appear before the Senate joint Committees on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; ICT and Cybercrime, and Capital Market, chaired by Senators Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Yakubu Oseni (APC Kogi East) and Ibikunle Amosun (APC Ogun Central) respectively.

The joint committee has two weeks to report back to the upper legislative chamber at plenary.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion entitled: ‘CBN decision to stop financial institutions from transacting in crypto currencies and matters arising therefrom’ co-sponsored by Senators Istifanus Gyang (PDP Plateau North) and Adetokunbo Abiru (APC Lagos East).

Presenting the motion, Senator Gyang noted that the CBN took the decision following its earlier directives in January 2017 and February 2018 which forbade banks not to use, hold, trade and/or transact in crypto currencies.

He said the action and directive of the CBN have attracted sharp reactions from Nigerians and has become a topical subject of national discuss.

According to him, “Crypto currency is both an opportunity and a threat, hence the Senate has a responsibility to ensure that the country and citizens do not miss out on the opportunities that crypto currency offers and in the same vein, mitigate and prevent likely consequential effects on the country’s economy and security.”

He, however, stressed that “the decision of the CBN is said to have been predicated on the need to safeguard the Nigerian economy from the adverse effects of the crypto currency regime which are unregulated digital or virtual currencies that are issued by anonymous entities and secured by cryptography.”

Contributing to the motion, former Senate Minority Leader, Mrs. Biodun Olujumi, said Nigeria did not create crypto currency, and therefore, could not possibly kill its operation.

According to her, Nigeria should not exclude itself from global technological developments shaping the world.According to her, “We can regulate and manage crypto currency transactions in Nigeria; we cannot kill because some of our youths are working hard and doing great in technology.”

On his part, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Olamilekan Adeola, said the CBN ban on crypto currency was shying away from its oversight duties.

He said it was important to invite the CBN governor to find out the regulations put in place to regulate the activities of those operating in crypto currency in Nigeria.

Adeola added that all over the world, the activities of crypto currency operators are regulated.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, stressed that the CBN needs to educate Nigerians the more on the issues involving crypto currency transactions in Nigeria, especially as to how it impacts the economy and security.

The Senate, he emphasised, wants to be briefed to have more information and be guided on next line of action, noting that the motion may not be the last on crypto currency as the issues are still developing.