The Nigeria’s Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has banned cash withdrawals from accounts belonging to the federal government, ahead of the February’s general elections.
It also includes accounts belonging to Federal Government agencies and parastatals, as well as state and local governments.
The NFIU Head, Moddibo Tukur, announced the ban on Thursday, during a press briefing in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Tukur said that the new directive became necessary to arrest fraudulent withdrawals from public accounts without recourse to the money laundering laws and sometimes for corruption purposes.
He decried that the rate of withdrawals above the threshold from public accounts had been alarming, adding that over N701billion was withdrawn in cash from 2015 till date.
The NFIU boss said he had instructed all financial institutions to stop cash withdrawals from government accounts from March 1, 2023, adding that any government official who flouts 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 into online, as all transactions involving public money must be routed through the banks for the purpose of accountability and transparency.
Tukur had explained that the 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.
“As far as we are concerned, Nigeria will become a full non-cash economy by March 1 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 and ICPC.
“This is not reversible as we are only enforcing the law,” he added.
Talking about those who may want to flout the regulation under the excuse of government exigencies and all that, Tukur noted that only President Muhammadu Buhari had the power to grant waiver to any official.