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Lawmakers react to ban on cryptocurrency

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Nigerian lawmakers at the upper chambers have reacted to the current ban on cryptocurrency trading in the country by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

A cross-session of the them are of the opinion that cryptocurrencies have made the Nigerian currency useless, while others think it should only be regulated due to what they described as its huge economic opportunities.  

Some of the senators in statement released via the Senate’s official Twitter handle after Thursday’s plenary session, have argued against the ban. 

According to Sen. Biodun Olujimi of the Ekiti South Constituency, Nigeria cannot be resistant to crypto trading, because it has facilitated great businesses in the country and is helping to grow the economy. 

“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 results and Nigeria cannot immune itself from this sort of business,” it read.

Meanwhile, some on the other side of the divide like Senator Sani Musa of the Niger East Senatorial District, do not see any regulatory measures that can check the activities of crypto traders in the country.

Musa argued that like some of his colleagues, the technology behind it is too strong.

He 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,” the senator says. 

Senator Tokunbo Abiru, representing Lagos East Senatorial district, posited that it is good to ban the trade of cryptocurrencies, saying, although that wouldn’t make it go away.

“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.

Abiru also suggested regulatory measures, involving key stakeholders in the financial sector.  

“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 the way forward, the lawmakers have therefore mandated industry players in the financial sector and ICT to summon the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele for a session on the opportunities and risks of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria’s economy.

Recall, the CBN has on February 5th, directed banks and other financial institutions to close accounts transacting in cryptocurrencies.

The order emphatically pointed out to financial institutions that “dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited” in the country. 

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