NFIU warns gov’t agencies, others against huge cash withdrawals

. As Nigeria goes cashless on March 1

The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), has warned the public and private entities against massive cash withdrawals.

This comes as the NFIU reminded Nigerians that three years imprisonment, payment of equivalent value of money involved or both punishments await violators of the cashless policy.

The Director and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Modibbo Tukur, gave the advisory yesterday in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.

He spoke on the state of the nation’s security threats and financial liquidity.

Tukur advised all federal Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), state governments, local government councils, corporate bodies as well as, civil servants, public and private officers to embrace the cashless policy of money transactions to deepen national security.

This is to strengthen Nigeria’s security and financial systems, he explained.

According to him, the Federal and State Governments as well as the 774 local government councils have made cash withdrawals of about N200 billion, N156 billion and N120 billion, respectively, from 2015 to date.

To curb these excesses, the Federal Government has directed and ordered the stoppage of “direct cash withdrawals by public institutions and officers” with effect from March 1, this year, Tukur said.

He therefore advised all stakeholders to adopt new technologies of financial transactions and abide by the withdrawal limits or thresholds earlier prescribed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for corporate and individual transactions.

Recall that the CBN had in December 2022 prescribed a threshold of N5 million only for corporate accounts and N500,000 only for individuals per week.

Tukur however explained that no infractions have been recorded so far, but noted that cash withdrawals are still higher than deposits.

“Liquidity is needed to finance our markets,” he said, adding that there is no threat to the corruption and money laundering crusade yet.

Besides, he assured that anybody with genuine need for huge cash transactions would seek presidential approval as there was no “standing waiver” on this policy.

While warning that the “guideline is not reversible”, he stressed that any cash withdrawal beyond the approved limit would trigger a red flag by the relevant anti-graft agencies.

The federal and state governments as well as the 774 local government councils have made cash withdrawals of about N200 billion, N156 billion and N120 billion, respectively, from 2015 to date.

Non-cash society

The NFIU Director also informed that Nigeria has been designated as a non-cash society by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), among other stakeholders, effective March 1.

He said Nigeria has also been categorised as a “high risk” country by the concerned parties because of the enormous security challenges facing the nation.

Tukur said with the country’s labelling, huge cash transactions were no longer tenable, and warned public and private entities against massive cash withdrawals, saying it portends threats to national security and financial liquidity.

“We can’t flow with politicians” because of obvious complications, while the set March 1 deadline is sacrosanct, he said.

He however expressed optimism that cash transactions would drop from the current N3 trillion to about N1 trillion when the policy becomes effective.

Tukur underscored the teeth of the “Enforcement, guidelines and policies for mitigation of money laundering, terrorist financing, proliferation of weapons and prevention of predicate crimes” Act of 2022.

He particularly cited Sections 2 and 22 of the NFIU laws of 2022 to buttress his threat. (NAN)

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