BY Dyepkazah Shibayan
The senate has invited Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to speak on the threats of cryptocurrency to the country’s economy.
The resolution of the upper legislative chamber followed a motion sponsored by Istifanus Gyang, senator representing Plateau north.
The CBN governor is expected to appear before a joint committee on banking, cybercrimes and capital markets.
While moving his motion on Thursday, Gyang noted that the action of the apex bank has generated criticisms from citizens.
“The decision of the CBN is said to have been predicated on the need to safeguard the Nigerian economy from the adverse effects of the cryptocurrency regime which are unregulated digital or virtual currencies that are issued by anonymous entities and secured by cryptography,” the senator said.
“Cryptography is a method of encrypting and hiding codes that prevent oversight, accountability and regulation upon which the CBN says its use in Nigeria violates and contravenes existing law as only the CBN is authorized by law to issue legal tender.
“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 and in the same vein, mitigate and prevent likely consequential effects on the nation’s economy and security.”
Contributing to the debate on the motion, Solomon Adeola, senator representing Lagos west, said he is against the outright ban of cryptocurrency.
“I am strongly against the outright ban of this medium of exchange by the CBN,” the senator said.
“What the CBN should be telling Nigerians are the regulations put in place to regulate the activities of the operators.”
Opposing Adeola’s submission, Sani Musa, senator representing Niger east, said cryptocurrency has made the naira “almost useless or valueless”.
“Cryptocurrency has become a worldwide transaction of which you cannot even identify who owns what,” he said.
“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 motion was adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Senate President Ahmad Lawan. The joint committee has two weeks to submit its report for further legislative action.
Last week, the apex bank directed banks to close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions within their systems.
TheCable reported that the CBN is currently probing banks involved in cryptocurrency trading.