In a bid to address corruption in government offices, the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has banned the Federal, State and Local Governments from cash withdrawals from government accounts.

This was announced by the director and chief executive of the NFIU, Modibbo Tukur, while addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

Tukur said the three tiers of government have between now and March 1, 2023 to put their house in order and comply with the directive as any cash transaction from March 1 from any account belonging to the government at any level, will be triggered and investigated according to the Money Laundering Act.

He, however, stated that only the President has the power to grant waiver to any official.

He further said this was necessary to arrest the rate by which monies were taken out of public accounts without recourse to the money laundering laws and sometimes for corruption purposes.

Giving details of abuse of financial transactions in recent times, Tukur said despite the introduction of the cash withdrawal limits in the country, state governments have withdrawn a total of N701 billion cash between 2015 till date.

Also, within the same period, the federal government withdrew N225billion in cash while the local governments withdrew a total of N156 billion in cash with the seven-year period.

Tukur also said he had instructed all financial institutions to stop cash withdrawals from government accounts from March 1, 2023, adding that any government official who flout the order will be prosecuted alongside his or her accomplices.

He said the NFIU had told banks and government agencies at all levels to move fully online, as all transactions involving public money must be routed through the banks for the purpose of accountability and transparency.

Tukur said that this move was in line with the resolve to fully transit the country into cashless economy which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been leading.

According to him, “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, 2023 will be investigated and prosecuted in collaboration with relevant agencies like EFCC and ICPC.

“This is not reversible as we are only enforcing the law.”

It would be noted that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit is the central national agency responsible for the receipt of disclosures from reporting organisations, the analysis of these disclosures and the production of intelligence for dissemination to competent authorities.

The NFIU is an autonomous unit and the central coordinating body for the country’s anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and counter-proliferation financing (AML/CFT/CPF) framework.

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