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NFIU: Ban on cash withdrawals from public accounts NOT against governors

NFIU: Ban on cash withdrawals from public accounts NOT against governors
January 21
15:39 2023

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) says the proposed plan to ban cash withdrawals from all federal, state, and local government accounts is not against governors.

Modibo Tukur, NFIU director-general, disclosed this to journalists, according to a statement issued by Ahmed Dikko, chief media analyst, on Saturday.

Last month, the NFIU had disclosed the government’s plans to stop cash withdrawals from all public-run bank accounts.

This was later followed by an official directive banning transactions on all government accounts from March 1, 2023, with NFIU gearing for enforcement.

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At a recent virtual meeting with Godwin Emefiele, governor, Central Bank of  Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) said the advisory and guidelines on cash transactions were simply outside the NFIU’s legal remit and mandate.

However, reacting to the NGF statement , Tukur said the plan was not against the governors.

He also said every decision made was to stop challenges in the financial system in the most “progressive manner.”

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“First of all, we are ready to partner with the six-man committee they set up. We will enlighten them,” he said.

“Secondly, we acted within our functions and the law. We issued the guidelines to control the barrage of investigations that we saw coming. Our guidelines were meant to help the governors not to fight them or any public servant.”

“We reached a stage that if we allow the present scenario to continue, all public institutions will drift into structured cash withdrawals of certain amounts of money which by law, standards, and best practices, must be investigated continuously which is neither desirable nor reasonable.

“We feel communities must move on by accommodating changes and adjusting to new developments.

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“Last time we issued the local government guidelines we were taken to court but we won the case.

“But more importantly, we need to understand that in the recent past, the United States FIU and United Kingdom FIU penalised Nigerian banks with fines of millions of U.S dollars due to non-compliance.

“Internally, non-compliance with sections cited in the recent guidelines comes with heavy penalties on financial institutions. We did, on a gentlemanly pretext, avoid until this moment putting a fine on financial institutions expecting gradual learning and adjustments.

“But to eternally guarantee this kind gesture is to automatically keep abusing our laws.

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“We want every stakeholder to appreciate that we cooperated for too far and long. We held a deep breath while defending these deficiencies internationally, just to continue to remain in the international pay points and compete with others.

“Finally, we also clearly stated in the preceding advisory, that the entire financial system suffered excess liquidity and liquidity ratio infringements which put hedging pressure of demand for foreign currency and gradually destroyed the value of the naira and above all created wide room for money laundering and terrorism, affecting significantly the rural populace on top of general inflation in the open marketplace.

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“We are in support of working together to stop these challenges and in the most progressive manner.”

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