Are Nigerians Free To Use Bitcoin?
It is common knowledge that the Nigerian governing system prohibits its citizens from partaking in any crypto transactions. There are even penalties attached to any Nigerian bank account that is traceable to crypto-related activities. Nonetheless, statistics have it that over half of the Nigerian adult population are very much active in the crypto space. The fact that Nigeria comes third in Bitcoin trading worldwide says a lot too.
But here are the questions; Would one be convicted and penalized in Nigeria if found in possession of Bitcoin? Does the Nigerian justice system provide a section of the law that makes one subject to penalty upon owning Bitcoin and other crypto digital assets? Under what condition in Nigeria, as included in the constitution, that a person can be convicted? Let’s dig into these questions.
Bitcoin Trading With Respect To Nigerian Law
It’s quite difficult to completely unravel the complexity in Bitcoin and the entire crypto ban in Nigeria by its government, and the massive activities of Nigerians in the world crypto community at the same time as though there is no ban.
Here’s what truly is; while the Nigerian government has banned crypto trading activities, there’s no section of the law that makes it an illegal thing to do, hence, technically, trading crypto in Nigeria is not illegal and one cannot be jailed for it.
The essence of the ban was drawn from the fact that there are no regulatory bodies that see to the use and control of Bitcoin and Altcoins, hence it does not just threaten the government of any nation whose citizens partake of it, it also doubles up putting the citizens at risk of fund loss. In the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, precisely section 36(12), it states that;
“Except as it has been provided by the constitution, nobody can be convicted of any criminal offense, unless such offense has a definition, and a penalty to it has been duly prescribed by a written law, and in this subjection, a written law means Law of a state, an act of the national assembly, and subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provision of the law.” (Not verbatim!)
Interpreting the above part of the law as contained in the Nigerian justice system translates that trading Bitcoin is not a criminal offense as there is no part of the law that makes it so. Nonetheless, it still remains that Nigerians are free to use Bitcoin as long as they’re under the anonymity shield that the crypto ecosystem provides — as long as there is no traceable link between their Nigerian bank accounts and anything that involves Bitcoin or any other crypto asset.
Why Bitcoin Is Not Welcomed By The Nigerian Authority
Bitcoin, like every other crypto asset, is built on blockchain technology, and this technology grants users a very strong dose of anonymity. This makes it highly susceptible to being used for funding terrorism, money laundering, and unconstitutional fund flow. Other reasons are plain fraud and evasion of task.
Hence, the Nigerian governing structure has mandated its financial institutions, such as banks to steer clear of, and not recognize any crypto asset as a legal tender.
Simply put, the main reason that has really fuelled the repellency of Bitcoin and other crypto assets by the Nigerian government is the fact that, as opposed to fiat currency and the digital Naira form (e-Naira) that are subject to being controlled by a centralized body, Bitcoin and other cryptos are built on cryptography where all transactions are recorded and verified by a decentralized and non-traceable system. There’s seldom a government of an independent nation that wants that.
Popular Trading Exchanges In Nigeria
An exchange is an online facility that serves as a middle ground where crypto trading transactions can be carried out. Nigerians adopt the use of these exchanges according to how the various functional ones meet their needs. For instance, While Binance is mostly used for trading crypto because of its multiple trading features, Trust wallet has quite a good adoption rate for holding crypto. Dart Africa on the other hand, as seen on many review websites, had been very much helpful in time of converting crypto assets to cash. And so far, it has an Amazing sign-up rate within a short period of time.
Conclusively, it’s safe to say that Nigerians are free to use Bitcoins within the confinement of the anonymity of the crypto world as a penalty awaits bank accounts with crypto traces. However, trading Bitcoin is still not illegal, an offense that one can be prosecuted for.