The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit has prohibited cash withdrawals from accounts belonging to the Federal Government, all its agencies, states and local governments.
It also announced new guidelines for compliance by all financial institutions, non-financial institutions, public officials, and foreign missions amongst others in the country.
The NFIU cited excessiveness and revealed that state governments withdrew N701.54bn in cash in seven years between 2015 and 2022, while the Federal Government withdrew N225.72bn.
All the 774 local governments combined only withdrew of N156.76bn within the same period.
The NFIU said the measure would take effect from March 1, 2023, and that any government official that withdraws cash from public accounts would be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, and the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the NFIU, depending on the gravity of the situation.
It declared that cash withdrawals from public accounts would be treated as a money laundering, citing the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the Chief Executive Officer, NFIU, Moddibo Tukur, said the ban was necessary to curb the rate at which monies were withdrawn from public accounts in flagrant disregard to the money laundering laws and sometimes for corruption purposes.
He said, “The rate of withdrawals above the threshold from public accounts has been alarming. Over N701bn has been withdrawn in cash from 2015 till date.
“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 EFCC, ICPC and the NPF.”
The NFIU boss, however, added that the President is in the position to grant waivers to government officials based on considerations.