The Senate on Thursday summoned the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, over the ban of cryptocurrency transactions in the country.
The upper legislative chamber also directed its Committees on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, ICT and Cybercrimes, and Capital Market to summon the Director-General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, on the same matter.
The duo are expected to brief the parliament on “the opportunities and threats of the cryptocurrency on the nation’s economy and security.
The committee is expected to present its findings within two weeks.
The apex bank had last week directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions to close accounts of persons using their systems for cryptocurrency trading.
A cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency that appreciates or depreciates on the influence of market forces.
The decision to summon the CBN and SEC chiefs was taken following the adoption of a motion titled: “CBN decision to stop financial institutions from transacting in cryptocurrencies and matters arising therefrom,” presented by Senators Istifanus Gyang and Tokunbo Abiru.
However, senators differed in their opinion on the matter during the plenary.
While Abiru, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola and Biodun Olujimi spoke in support of cryptocurrency usage, Senator Sani Musa defended the CBN’s decision to ban cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria.
Abiru said: “The last five years, we have had people changing cryptocurrencies to over 500 million dollars. It is good to ban because of the challenges it has presented; in reality, banning it doesn’t take it away.
“Even our Security 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.”
On his part, Adeola said: “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.”
Olujimi, who canvassed the continuous usage of cryptocurrency, added: “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 result and Nigeria cannot immune itself from this sort of 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.”
But Musa insisted that Bitcoin has made the Naira almost useless.
He added that the Nigerian economy was too weak for the usage of Bitcoin which “can’t be regulated.”
The senator said: “Cryptocurrency has become a worldwide transaction of which you cannot even identify who owns what. The technology is so strong that I don’t see the kind of regulation that we can do. 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.”
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