The Nigerian Senate has summoned the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, over the decision of the CBN to ban cryptocurrency exchanges in Nigerian financial institutions.
The CBN, last week, had directed financial institutions to immediately close any accounts dealing in cryptocurrency or facilitating payment for cryptocurrency exchanges.
The apex bank said the restriction regime is to protect Nigerians and the financial system.
It said dealing in cryptocurrency has dire consequences for the integrity of the financial system and financial stability.
The bank raised concerns that due to the fact that cryptocurrency is largely speculative, anonymous, and untraceable, they are increasingly being used for money laundering, terrorism financing, and other criminal activities.
At plenary on Thursday, the Senate resolved to invite the heads of CBN and SEC following a motion by Senator Istifanus Gyang and Tokunbo Abiru, titled, “CBN decision to stop financial institutions from transacting in cryptocurrencies and matters arising therefrom.”
The Senate asked its committees on Banking, Insurance, and other financial institutions, Capital Market, and that of ICT and cybercrime to summon Emefiele and Yuguda.
Leading the debate on the issue, Gyang expressed concern that cryptocurrency by nature was anchored on anonymity, obscurity and concealment of its patrons and actors.
He said such practice was making it difficult if not impossible, to trace, track and uncover those that may deploy it for ignoble and illegal usage such as money laundering, terrorism financing, drug purchase, cybercrime, among others.
The lawmaker explained that the action and directive of the CBN had attracted sharp reactions from Nigerians and had become a topical subject of national discussion.
“Cryptocurrency is both an opportunity and a threat, hence the Senate has a responsibility to ensure that the nation and citizens do not miss out on the opportunities that Cryptocurrency offers,” Gyang said.
“In the same vein, the Senate intervention could mitigate and prevent likely consequential effects on the nation’s economy and security.”
The CBN governor and SEC DG are expected to brief the Senate panels on the opportunities and threats of the cryptocurrency on the nation’s economy.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan asked the joint committees to listen to Emefiele and Yuguda, and submit their report for the consideration of the Senate in plenary within two weeks.