According to Nigeria’s Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee (BICCON), it is against the law for Nigerian financial institutions to decide to arbitrarily close or freeze accounts that belong to entities or individuals who are accused of trading cryptocurrencies. On November 22nd, a public statement was issued by BICCON, which is a coalition of the foremost blockchain and cryptocurrency advocacy groups in the country. This statement advised all affected individuals as well as companies to get legal advice and where appropriate, redress in courts. The body went on to say that no Nigerian organization could be above the law, whether private or public.
It had been previously reported that financial institutions in Nigeria were shutting down or freezing bank accounts of companies and individuals who were suspected of cryptocurrency trading since November 3rd. According to the institutions, they are doing this in compliance with the directive issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that had initially been issued back on February 5th. However, even though banks have made these claims, the blockchain committee stated that it was questionable for these financial institutions to freeze or block accounts just because the account holders were trading cryptocurrencies. BICCON said that the actions of nonbank financial institutions (NBFIs), deposit money banks (DMBs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) were questionable.
It said that the laws that govern the Federal Republic of Nigeria do not permit them to do so. The statement also reiterated the stance of the advocacy group on a directive of the CBN that financial institutions had initially used for justifying the removal of crypto companies from their banking system. Meanwhile, BICCON used the same statement for renewing the spotlight on the crypto industry in Nigeria. It started once more that the CBN was encroaching on the legislature’s law-making powers. It said that a number of accounts of individuals and entities had been closed since 5th February 2021.
BICCON said that being a regulator gave CBN the right to delimit banking operations, but the law does not support the order to banks for freezing or shutting down accounts of those engaging in crypto trading. It went on to say that there was no legislation that had been introduced by the National Assembly that could be used to declare crypto in Nigeria illegal or criminal for that matter. The statement highlighted that failure to review the circular issued by the CBN would be setting a dangerous precedent in Nigeria.
According to the statement, while BICCON is not in favor of the discrimination against the blockchain and crypto industry in the country, they are willing to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, concerned regulators and the government regarding this matter. Currently, there has been a lot of upheaval in Nigeria where these cryptocurrencies are concerned. It appears that the regulatory authority i.e. the Central Bank of Nigeria is not willing to allow crypto trading to continue in the country, as the assets are believed to be volatile and this has led to problems for people who are interested in this space.
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