Nigeria’s Senate has summoned the country’s top financial regulators for a briefing after the central bank ordered local financial institutions to stop providing services to crypto companies and users last Friday.
The Nigerian Tribune reported Thursday the Senate has mandated its banking committee to invite the governor of the central bank (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and the director general of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission, Lamido Yuguda, to appear at a time to be determined and explain the opportunities and threats of cryptocurrency. The Senate session discussing the issue was live-tweeted on the Senate’s official Twitter page.
Last week’s CBN directive caused an uproar on social media, while local crypto advocates wrote to the bank asking for clarification on the order. In response, the CBN published a five-page statement that included a pledge to protect Nigerian citizens from the risks of cryptocurrencies.
“[The CBN] will continue to do all within its regulatory powers to educate Nigerians to desist from its use and protect our financial system from activities of fraudsters and speculators,” the statement said.
But a number of senators opposed the CBN move and an outright ban on crypto, though they spoke in favor of regulating the industry.
“The next level is cryptocurrency and we can’t run away from it. It is CBN’s responsibility to bring Nigerians to the next level, not discouraging it. It is the simplest way of exchange,” Sen. Bassey Akpan said.
Despite its risks and dangers, crypto has its merits, Sen. Dung Gyang said, adding that the lawmakers want the CBN governor to brief them on the risks and opportunities that crypto offers the nation so that Nigeria won’t “miss out.”
Another senator, Solomon Adeola, said he is “strongly against” the CBN’s outright ban on crypto and that the bank should instead be regulating the space.
According to the Nigerian Tribune report, the Senate will be taking an informed position on the issue after the briefing.
Sen. Adetokumbo Abiru, who co-sponsored the motion, said cryptocurrency is a major transaction tool and an employer of “teeming youths” in the country.
“So I am not sure the CBN can ban it,” Sen. Abiru said.
Nigerian crypto users seemed largely undeterred after the CBN directive took effect, turning to peer-to-peer exchange platforms to continue trading. Nigerian peer-to-peer trading soared past two of Africa’s largest crypto markets, Kenya and South Africa, since the announcement.