Abuja January 5 2023: Nigeria will ban cash withdrawals from government accounts from March 1 to tackle illicit activity and push toward a cashless economy.
About 1.1 trillion naira ($2.4 billion) has been taken out of public accounts in cash since 2015, with most transactions exceeding legal thresholds, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Chief Executive Modibbo Tukur said Thursday.
“On March 1, if there is a cash withdrawal from a government account, even if it is one naira, we are going to trigger off money laundering and corruption investigations,” he told reporters in the capital, Abuja. Only the president will be able to grant exemptions to the measures, Tukur said.
Imposing the restrictions will “mitigate the risk of exposure of public servants to these crimes and protect the financial system from continuous abuse,” according to guidelines published by the NFIU.
The new rules enforce legislation that was amended last year and add to steps taken by the central bank to boost digital payments and prevent cash hoarding and illicit activities, Tukur said. Last year, the bank announced plans to replace 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes by the end of this month and cut the daily withdrawal limit from automatic teller machines.
The changes are set to take effect four days after Nigerians vote for a new president and federal lawmakers, and 10 days before they elect state governors and legislators.