Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria, (BICCON) has stated that it is illegal for Nigerian financial institutions arbitrarily to close or freeze bank accounts of individuals or organizations accused of trading in cryptocurrency.
Affected crypto-entities told to get legal advice
In a public statement issued on November 22, BICCON — a coalition of Nigeria’s foremost cryptocurrency and blockchain advocacy groups — advises affected individuals and companies to seek legal advice and redress in courts where appropriate. This body insists that any Nigerian organisation, private or public, must adhere to the law.
Bitcoin.com News reported that Nigerian banks have started closing and freezing the accounts of cryptocurrency trading entities since November 3, as previously reported by Bitcoin.com News. According to the institutions, they claim that this is done in compliance with the directive issued by Central Bank of Nigeria on February 5th.
The blockchain committee, however, insists that it is not possible for financial institutions to freeze or block accounts because account holders are crypto traders. BICCON’s statement explains:
We consider questionable the actions of deposit money banks (DMBs), nonbank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) blocking, closing, and/or freezing the bank accounts of individuals and entities by the mere fact that these individuals and entities are involved in cryptocurrency trading or cryptocurrency-related transactions without more. The Federal Republic of Nigeria does not support this.
The statement also reiterates BICCON’s stance on a CBN directive that was initially used by financial institutions to justify the exclusion of crypto entities from the banking system.
Only Nigerian lawmakers can criminalize cryptocurrency trading
BICCON, however, uses the spotlight that has been placed on Nigeria’s cryptocurrency sector to reiterate its conviction that the CBN is overstepping the legislative law-making power. BICCON declares:
“Since 5 February 2021, a number of persons and entities accounts have been closed … Though as the regulator, the CBN has the statutory authority to delimit banking operations, but [the]Place your order [of]Ban all banks and financial institutions [or close]Accounts that are suspected to have been used for cryptocurrency might not be allowed by law. This is because there is currently no legislation by the National Assembly criminalizing or illegalizing trade in cryptocurrency in Nigeria.”
The statement insists the failure to review the CBN’s circular “will set a dangerous precedent in the country.” The statement also suggests that while BICCON is against the “undue discrimination” against Nigeria’s blockchain & crypto industry, the body is willing to collaborate with concerned regulators, law enforcement agencies, and the government.
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