Nigeria’s central bank has frozen the accounts of two people and a company it claims are engaged in digital currency trading. The bank claimed it violated a circular issued in February against Bitcoin trading.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week issued a “Post-No-Debit” circular to all commercial banks to close the accounts of the three entities, reports the local People’s Gazette.
“You are hereby invited to close the accounts of underlisted bank clients and place the funds in the accounts on hold to engage in cryptocurrency transactions in violation of CBN Circular BSD / DIR / PUB / 014 / 001 of February 5, 2021. “
The accounts are owned by a company called TVS Hallmark Service Limited and by two people, Nwaorgu Kingsley Chibuzor and Nnamdi Francis Okereke. The CBN circular was signed by its director of banking supervision JY Mammanand.
In its circular, the central bank referred to a February order in which it ordered all banks to close accounts used in all digital currency transactions. The February circular specifically urged all financial institutions to “identify individuals and / or entities transacting or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure those accounts are closed immediately.”
At the time, Nigeria was witnessing nationwide protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which had been accused of unleashing violence against young Nigerians and even killing a number of residents for minor offenses. It has been alleged that as the CBN has banned all banking channels for protest leaders from all banking channels, some have turned to digital currencies to raise funds for the movement. At the time of this writing, it is not known how much money has been raised through this channel, but it was enough to worry the CBN. SARS was eventually dissolved due to the pressure of the protests.
The new ban for all three entities comes at a time when digital currency trading in Nigeria is skyrocketing. The West African country is the continent’s leader in terms of trade volume and is one of the largest P2P markets in the world.
Nigeria also recently launched its eNaira, becoming the first country in Africa to have its own CBDC.
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