By Abiola Olawale
Adamu Garba, a former presidential aspirant, has on Saturday backed the ban placed on all accounts linked to cryptocurrency trading in the country by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), stating that the ban will help the country in its fight against terrorism.
According to him, the ban placed on all crypto accounts would affect the terrorists and bandits, who had mastered the act of sourcing for funds to perpetrate crimes, through cryptocurrencies.
He stated the move will cut the major source of funds sought by the terrorist to purchase weapons, adding that the ban was necessary as it would stop the funding of protests like the recent #EndSARS campaign.
Garba made these explanations while speaking in an interview with the Punch, on Saturday.
In his words, “When government is taking this decision, there could be national economic implications as well as national security implications. You and I know that the #EndSARS protests although very well-organised, the demands very clearly stated, but eventually it was turned into something of an uprising and an insurrection than what it was supposed to be. When you look at the destruction that happened in Lagos, we can’t say that that was the original intention of #EndSARS. If these sources of funds keep coming, amplifying that kind of insurrection that is capable of destroying law and order in the country, then, of course, it justifies why that (crypto ban) should be done. Additionally, even the terrorist organisations that we have now, the bandits, the Boko Haram. Most of these guys now know how to use cryptocurrencies. Terrorism is a global network; it is not an isolated happening, especially when it comes to finance and weapons. These people have collaborations and the possibility that they keep sustaining their war on the Nigerian state by causing so much havoc on the country through those back channels that cannot be visible is also there. So, if you shut them out of the Nigerian system, I believe it is a good thing. It will create friction to some of the otherwise smooth processes that they use to leverage on. So, if I want to pass money from somebody in Sambisa Forest to somebody in a forest in Calabar for instance, I can be able to use crypto channel and it lands in the bank and then he cashes it over there and be able to use but now it cannot pass through Nigerian banks. Cryptocurrency is here and it is the future of currency but it does not fit into Nigeria at the moment.
“The decision of the government to the best of my knowledge makes sense because the way the crypto works in Nigeria is not consumerise, meaning it is not going to individual users to participate. Most people go through brokers to be able to do these crypto activities. Most of these brokers are in a dark environment, nobody knows where they are and they cannot be regulated. Yet, they transact in some cases millions of dollars. So, how would you allow these people to run in an economy? he asked, adding that the trading of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria was inimical to the country’s economic growth.
“People carry their money in a dollar environment that is completely untracked and unregulated. Nigeria is the second or third most-traded Bitcoin in the world – $566m without productivity is sitting in one place from Nigeria. This to me is not a very good thing for economic growth. As a third world economy, we need more productivity per dollar that gets into the bank. CBN said Nigerian financial institution should not participate from any crypto activities but it didn’t stop anybody from participating in crypto activities.” Garba said.
It would be recalled that Garba, 38, is a Nigerian entrepreneur, IT expert, business consultant, politician and the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the IPI Solutions Nigeria Limited. He was also a former presidential aspirant in the 2019 election under the All Progressive Congress (APC).