Worried by the inflationary consequences of huge public sector cash withdrawals on the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Financial and Intelligence Unit (NFIU), yesterday, outlawed cash withdrawals from all government accounts effective March 1, 2023 warning that defaulters risk three-year jail term.
The NFIU, declared that such transactions would now be done electronically in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monetary policy.
It said defaulters who fail to heed the cash restriction order on public accounts risks collaborative investigation by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
Director and Chief Executive Officer, NFIU, Modibbo Tukur, who confirmed the latest development at a press briefing, at the Unit’s office in Abuja, said defaulters risk spending three years behind bars.
He said “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,” he said.
Tukur clarified that under the guidelines, only the President can give a waiver for any cash above the approved daily threshold to be withdrawn for urgent or emergency reasons.
He said despite the introduction of the cash withdrawal limits in the country, state governments withdraw a total of N701 billion cash above the N225 billion withdrawn by the Federal Government and N156 billion withdrawn by the local governments in the country, bringing total public sector cash withdrawals between 2015 to date to N1.082trillion.
“With some states withdrawing up to N24 billion and then we also discovered that the Federal Government withdrew in cash up to N225 billion while the local governments withdrew up to N156 billion.
So if we are to apply the law here, all the public servants involved in this withdraws are entitled to three years imprisonment. That’s what the law said,” he said.
The NFIU therefore directed federal, state and local governments in the country to put necessary measures in place to ensure the smooth operationalisation of the new policy.
He advised the different tiers of government in particular, to deploy technology and train their staff to be able to apply the new policy from the stipulated date.
Modibbo said: “With the implementation of this guideline, Nigeria has been taken into a non-cash economy with effect from March 1, 2023.”