NFIU officially bans cash withdrawals from govt accounts

THE Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has banned cash withdrawals from accounts belonging to state and local governments, as well as to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

The ban also covers state and local governments.

This, according to the NFIU boss, Moddibo Tukur, is to curb the rate at which monies are withdrawn from public accounts in total disregard to the money laundering laws, and to also reduce corruption in public sectors.

Tukur, disclosing this while addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, January 5, added that the cashless policy would take effect from March 1, 2023.

According to the NFIU, any government official that withdrew cash from public accounts would be risking investigation from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and the Nigeria Police Force,  in collaboration with the NFIU.

He stressed that the decision was taken to accelerate the full transition of Nigeria into a cashless economy, which the Central Bank of Nigeria has been leading.

Tukur explained that only President Muhammadu Buhari had the power to grant waiver on the policy to any official.

He said, “For government exigencies, only the President has the power to grant any waiver to any government official,  considering the importance of the situation, either for national security, health, or other important reasons.”

He added that the NFIU had instructed the banks and government agencies at all levels to move fully online, as all transactions would be made through the banks for the purpose of accountability and transparency.




     

     

    According to him, the rate of withdrawals above the threshold from public accounts had been alarming, noting that over N701 billion had been withdrawn in cash by the state governments from 2015 till date.

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    The NFIU boss stressed that within the same period, the Federal government withdrew N225 billion in cash, while the local governments withdrew a total of N156 billion in cash.

    “The NFIU had told banks and government agencies at all levels to go fully digital by moving online, as all transactions involving public money must be routed through the banks for the purpose of accountability and transparency.

    “This is not reversible as we are only enforcing the law. As far as we are concerned, Nigeria will become a full non-cash economy by March 1, 2023 this year. As a consequence, any government official that withdraws even one naira cash from any public account from March 1 will be investigated and prosecuted in collaboration with relevant agencies like the EFCC, ICPC and NPF,” he added.

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    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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