Nigeria’s Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee (BICCON) has said freezing or closing bank accounts is not supported by law. Despite the ban on trading and facilitating payment for cryptocurrency in Nigeria through banks in Feb 2021 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Crypto trading is still booming and now the government is going about with the freezing and closure of accounts of suspected traders.
According to BICCON, a coalition of Nigeria’s leading crypto and blockchain advocacy group, the freezing and closure of bank accounts is not supported by law and has asked affected traders to seek legal redress and restitution in the court of law.
In the official statement released, BICCON challenges the code of conduct of deposit money banks (DMBs), Nonbank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), and also other Financial Institutions (OFIs) that are blocking, closing, and/or freezing bank accounts of individuals or corporate bodies engaged in the trading of cryptocurrency or any transaction related to crypto.
The committee maintains that no financial institute should freeze, restrict, or close accounts on the basis of being a cryptocurrency trader as the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s present legal framework is not in support of this act.
In other words, BICCON also uses this avenue to restate its assumptions that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is encroaching on the Nigerian Legislatures as it is only the lawmakers who can criminalize crypto trading and that CBN is only a regulator.
“Since 5 February 2021, a good number of individuals and entities have had their accounts shut down…Though as the regulator, the CBN has the statutory authority to delimit banking operations, the ordering of banks and other financial institutions to freeze or close accounts suspected to be in use for cryptocurrency may not be supported by law. The reason is that there is presently no legislation by the National Assembly criminalizing or illegalizing the trade of cryptocurrency in Nigeria.”
The advocacy group insists that the CBN’s memo sent to banks needs to be reviewed and failure to do so “will set a dangerous precedent in the country.”
While BICCON is against the “undue discrimination” against Nigeria’s blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, the group is willing to collaborate with concerned law enforcement agencies, stakeholders, regulators, and the government to sort the aims and objectives of Cryptocurrency, its benefits to the economy as well as how it can be duly regulated.