THE Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has prohibited cash withdrawals from accounts belonging to the federal, states and local governments, as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Announcing the prohibition in his office in Abuja on Thursday, Modibbo R. Hamman Tukur, Director/ CEO of the NFIU said the action was necessitated by the need to arrest the rate by which monies are siphon out of public accounts without recourse to the money laundering laws.
Tukur said the rate of withdrawals above the threshold from public accounts has been worrisome, adding that over N701 billion has been withdrawn in cash by state governments from 2015 till date.
According to the NFIU boss, he had instructed all financial institutions to stop cash withdrawals from government accounts from March 1, 2023, warning that any government offi- cial who flouts the order will be prosecuted along- side accomplices.
He said the NFIU had told banks and government agencies at all levels to move fully online, as all transactions involving pub- lic money must be made through the banks for the purpose of accountability and transparency.
Tukur stressed that this move is in line with the resolve to fully transit the country into cashless eco- nomy, which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been spearheading.
“As far as we are concerned, Nigeria will become a full non-cash economy by March 1, 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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
“This is not reversible as we are only enforcing the law,” he reiterated.
Talking about those who may want to flout the regulation under the excuse of government exigencies and all that, Tukur noted that only President Muhammadu Buhari has the power to grant any waiver to any official.
Tukur stated “In considering the provisions and enforcement requirements of the law, particularly Sections 2 and 13 of the MLPPA, 2022, Section 26 of the Proceeds of Crime (Re-covery and Management) Act, (POCA) 2022, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circular on the revised cash withdrawal lim- its, issued pursuant to its powers under the CBN Act, 2007, and Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020, the NFIU noticed in the process of its financial transactions analysis that civil servants are becoming more and more vulnerable to money laundering and its predicate offences due to their exposure to cash withdrawals from public accounts.”