Modibbo Tukur , Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit

For the umpteenth time, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on Wednesday faulted isolated comments against new guidelines on the management of the finances of the nation’s local governments.

It described the comments as willful misinterpretation of the 1999 Constitution.

It clarified that the guidelines were also on the account of legitimate powers provided by the NFIU Act 2018.

The NFIU which made the clarifications in a statement in Abuja by its Chief Media Analyst, Mr. Ahmed Dikko, warned that any violation of the said guidelines will be sanctioned appropriately.

The statement said: “The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) is using this second press statement on the above subject to reiterate its position that the 1st June effective date of the guidelines to all financial institutions and public officials on the local government funds stands.

“The Unit also maintains its understanding of the 1999 constitution that no debit is allowed on any local government funds unless and until the funds are credited to and reach the bank accounts of a local government in any state of the federation.

“The provision of the cumulative cash withdrawal not exceeding N500, 000 per day is also firmly in place effective 1st June 2019.

“We observed isolated comments to the contrary in the past few days which in our assessment only amounted to willful misinterpretation of the 1999 constitution and therefore, of no consequences to the operations of the entire financial system.

“The provision of the guidelines to the financial institutions was also on account of legitimate powers provided by the NFIU Act 2018 and any violations of the said guidelines will be sanctioned appropriately.

The NFIU last Monday unveiled the new guidelines in Abuja.

The complete copy of the guidelines has been released to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Chief Executive Officers of all Banks and other financial institutions.

A statement by the agency explained in details the steps taken to protect local government allocations.

The statement said: “The NFIU requests all financial institutions, other relevant stakeholders, public servants and the entire citizenry to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines already submitted to financial institutions and relevant enforcement agencies including full enforcement of corresponding sanctions against violations from 1st June, 2019.

“Having realized through analysis that cash withdrawal and transactions from the State Joint Local Government Accounts (SJLGA), poses biggest corruption, money laundering and security threats at the grassroots levels and to the entire financial system and the country as a whole, decided to uphold the full provisions of section 162 (6) (8)of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended which designated ” State Joint Local Government Account into which shall be paid allocations to the local government councils of the state from the federation account and from the government of the state.”

“The amount standing to the credit of local government councils of a state shall be distributed among the local government councils of that state” and not for other purposes. As far as the NFIU is concerned the responsibility of the account as a collection account is fully reinstated.

“In addition, taking such measures was necessitated by prompting reasons on the NFIU to respond to threats of isolating the entire Nigerian financial system by other International financial systems due to deficiencies in our anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing implementation and measures.

“Therefore, it is no longer possible to allow the entire system to suffer the deliberate and expensive infractions or violations by public officials and/or private business interests.”

“In addition, a provision is also made to the effect that there shall be no cash withdrawal from any local government account for a cumulative amount exceeding N500, 000:00 per day. Any other transaction must be done through valid cheques or electronic funds transfer.”

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