Crypto-Currency: Senate Summons CBN Governor, DG SEC

The controversy surrounding the ban on crypto-currency transactions through Nigerian banks took a twist on Thursday as the Senate summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Security and Exchange Commission to explain the reason for the ban.

This followed a motion jointly sponsored by Senators Gyang Istifanus (Plateau North) and Senator Abiru Adetokumbo (Lagos East) on the apex bank’s “decision to stop financial institutions from transacting in crypto currencies and matters arising there from.”

In her resolution, the Red Chamber mandated her committees on banking, insurance and other financial institutions, ICT, Cybercrimes and Capital Market to invite the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and Lamido Yuguda, the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission to brief it on the opportunities and threats of the crypto-currency on the nation’s economy and security.

The committee is to report its findings to the general assembly of the Senate within two weeks.

In their contributions, lawmakers urged the relevant government agencies to embrace crypto-currency as the new normal seeing that the tender is gaining popularity worldwide.

Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos East) criticized the ban, insisting that regulators should be focused on ensuring that adequate measures were put in place to safeguard the economy.

This is as he called on the Senate to invite crypto-currency operators and the CBN to provide insight on the issue.

His remarks were corroborated by Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) who insisted that Nigeria must not make itself immune to the global acceptability of the currency.

“We did not create crypto-currency so we cannot kill it and we cannot also refuse to ensure that it does not work against us.

“Definitely the youths of today are not like us. Me I am used to tangible means of exchange. I carry my cash in my pockets. But the world has gone too far. And these Children are doing great business with it.

“They work everyday on their laptops, on their phones and they’re getting results. And Nigeria cannot immune itself from this.”

The Ekiti South lawmaker said that “the best thing we (Nigeria) can do is to ensure that the space is regulated so that bad people cannot use it.”

In a more humorous contribution, the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East, Akpan Bassey, disclosed that kidnappers and bandits now demand ransom in crypto-currencies.

“Cryptocurrency is the new world order. Even kidnappers are demanding payments in Bitcoin.
The time has come for Nigeria to live with the obvious,” he stated.

The position is however not shared by all as the lawmaker representing Niger East, Senator Sani Musa, explained that regulating crypto-currency would be difficult.

He underscored that Bitcoin is dangerous to Nigeria’s economy, even as he called for the CBN to liaise with relevant government agencies to protect Nigeria’s cyberspace.

Fielding questions from journalists, the Sponsor of the motion, Senator Istifanus Gyang explained that though the Senate invited the CBN Governor, it cannot stampede the executive into taking actions on resolutions reached by the Senate in its oversight functions.
He said: “The issue has been the enforcement of the resolutions of the National Assembly which are largely advisory.

“It is for Nigerians to know that their representatives have not gone to sleep on a matter as critical to the nation’s economy and security and to the businesses of citizens as this.

“What the executive will do to the resolutions of the National Assembly, we would have discharged our constitutional duties.”

Co-Sponsor of the motion, Senator Abiru Adetokumbo (Lagos East) supported CBN’s stated position for banning the tender over allegations of money laundering and terrorism financing.

“Nigeria as a country is a major destination of crypto-currency. From the findings I’ve been able to put together, in the last five years we have had trading in excess of 500 million dollars and just last year we had over 150 million dollars traded in cryptocurrency in Nigeria,” he added.

He said most young and upcoming entrepreneurs see trading in crypto-currency as a means of employment for them because of the involvement of technology.