“This is definitely the wrong time to introduce policies that will restrict the inflow of capital into Nigeria, and I urge that the policy to prohibit the dealing and transaction of cryptocurrencies be revisited,” Atiku tweeted on Saturday.
“It is possible to regulate the sub-sector and prevent any abuse that may be damaging to national security. That may be a better option, than an outright shutdown.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Friday directed banks to close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions within their systems.
CBN gave the directive in a circular distributed to deposit money banks (DMBs), non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs).
“Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited, ” CBN’s director for banking supervision Bello Hassan and director of the payment system management department Musa Jimoh said.
The prohibition has drawn wide criticsm from Nigerians, mostly youths who accused the CBN of stifling their financial independence amidst growing unemployment and poverty rate in the country. Their assertions was re-echoed by Atiku, who was Nigerians vice president from 1999 to 2007.
“There is already immense economic pressure on our youths,” Atiku said. “It must be the job of the government, therefore, to reduce that pressure, rather than adding to it.”
“We must create jobs in Nigeria. We must expand the economy. We must remove every impediment towards investments. We owe the Nigerian people that much.”
While Atiku stated that the prohibition on cryptocurrencies will have an adverse effect on the economy, the CBN in January 2017 said digital currencies such as bitcoin, litecoin, and others are largely used in terrorism financing and money laundering, considering the anonymity of virtual transactions.
Despite the ban, Luno, a cryptocurrency trading platform on Friday urged investors not to panic as their funds will be safe.
The platform in a statement asked crypto traders to exercise patience, and that “there’s no need to take any action regarding your account at this time.”