Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, has called for a substantive legal framework for cryptocurrencies in the country.

According to a report by Nigerian news daily Daily Post on July 23, Gbajabiamila wants the country to develop clear regulations for digital assets so that the country does not get left behind as cryptocurrencies become more widely adopted. 

Speaking at a visit by the board of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Gbajabiamila said:

“On the issue of cryptocurrency, I think blockchain technology is novel and coming up strong. We don’t want to be left behind. [...] I think the world is taking the issue of cryptocurrency and block-chain technology seriously. We don’t want to be left behind, and we have to take it seriously.”

Gbajabiamila noted the House’s readiness to develop relevant legal frameworks for the emerging technology and asset class. 

In addition to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the lawmaker also spoke about the role of the NDIC and creating well-defined and separate competencies between it and the country’s central bank. The speaker said that the House would expand the NDIC’s statutory functions, and ensure that its roles did not overlap with those of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The NDIC, much like the American Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, provides an insurance safety net for depositors in Nigeria’s recently liberalized banking sector. 

Earlier this year, Nigeria’s financial watchdog agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), received a petition alleging that Estonia-based crypto firm Paxful Inc. defrauded thousands of Nigerian investors out of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies through arbitrary account closures.

Paxful subsequently denied the allegations, claiming that, “all accounts that have been shut down have a reason for it. We will not shut down any account unless they violate our TOS (Terms of Service).”