The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit has said no cash withdrawal exceeding N500,000 per day could be made from any local government account with effect from June 1, 2019, noting that any other transaction must be done through valid cheques or electronic funds transfer.
The agency also promised sanctions for any commercial bank which allowed transactions from any local government account without monies first reaching the LG account.
The NFIU in an emailed statement by its acting Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko, on Monday, directed all financial institutions, relevant stakeholders, public servants and the public to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines which had been submitted to financial institutions and relevant enforcement agencies.
It stated that the directive was sequel to findings which indicated that cash withdrawals and transactions of the State and Joint Local Government Accounts posed the “biggest corruption, money laundering and security threats at the grassroots levels and to the entire financial system and the country as a whole.”
The anti-graft agency further explained that the measures were necessitated by the threats of isolation of the Nigerian financial system by other international financial systems on account of the deficiencies in the nation’s anti- money laundering and counter-terrorism financing implementation.
The NFIU explained that it would not allow the system to suffer the deliberate and expensive infractions or violations by public officials and private business interests.
It said, “Henceforth, all errant individuals and companies will be allowed to face direct international and locally targeted sanctions, in order not to allow any negative consequences to fall on the entire country.
“To be precise, with effect from 1st June, any bank that allows any transaction from any local government account without monies first reaching a particular local government account will be sanctioned 100 per cent both locally and internationally.”
“In addition, a provision is also made to the effect that there shall be no cash withdrawal from any local government for a cumulative amount exceeding N500, 000 per day. Any other transaction must be done through valid cheques or electronic funds transfer.”
The agency further disclosed that the complete guidelines had been released to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Chief Executive Officers of all banks and other financial institutions.
“Any state government that is willing to seek any expert economic advice in the unlikely event of these guidelines constituting an inconvenience to the management of the state can work with the NFIU or CBN,” the statement added.
The Chairman, Human Resource Development Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, described the initiative as right step in the right direction, saying it would curb free flow of money and financial crimes.
He added that it would promote better accountability and forestall a situation where state governors hijack local government accounts.
Suraju said, “This will strongly encourage and provide all the necessary support for the anti-corruption agencies and the NFIU in this regard. The CBN, the ICPC and the EFCC must also rise up to this challenge by ensuring that they collaborate with and support the NFIU in achieving this.
“Not only the liable local government officials should be investigated and prosecuted; the bank concerned should also not only be fined but also prosecuted accordingly.
“If this is effectively enforced, it will allow for the operations of the local government account by local government officials. And also to track where governors are usurping the powers of the local government chairmen.”
But the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said the N500,000 daily cash withdrawal threshold might be too low for the operations of LGAs.
He advocated that it be moved up to about N2.5m.
“I think the cash withdrawal limit should be moved up to about N2.5m because there are occasions when for network reasons some payments have to be made.
“Even we, in the civil society organisation, sometimes we want to pay honorarium or transport support for those who attend our programmes and sometimes, we have more than 1,000 people and we want to pay each participant N1, 000. We cannot do transfer in all the cases because it will be cumbersome.
“So, N500,000 is too little for local governments. For individuals, that is the limit. For a local government, I think it should be more than that.”
On its part, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said the initiative should not be limited to the LGAs but should be extended to the state and federal levels.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oludare, said, “The NFIU directive though welcome as an anti-corruption strategy is somewhat misplaced in the light of grand corruption at the state and federal levels.
“Corruption and attendant money laundering is better curbed at not only the local government but also all levels of government by the abolishment of security votes.”
Price of Cooking Gas Hits N7,000 As NLNG Rues Poor Facilities
The management of the Nigeria LNG Limited has said that marketers do not have enough infrastructure to take up its Liquefied Petroleum Gas supply.
In an earlier PUNCH report, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association had said that the major cause of the rising cost of cooking gas was lack of adequate supply.
The marketers claimed that foreign investors underestimated demand in the Nigerian market resulting in marketers venturing into importation of the product.
They advocated that the government should let NLNG supply more gas to the market to reduce the costs.
Reports from consumers revealed that the cost of refilling a 12.5-kilogramme cylinder of LPG had risen to as high as N7000 in some states.
The marketers had also urged the government to remove cooking gas from the list of commodities subject to the payment of value added tax.
The marketing manager of NLNG, Austin Ogbogbo, in a response to the claim made by the IPMAN said that the marketers did not have enough infrastructure to take up the gas the company supplied.
He said, “NLNG has grown its capacity from 50,000 metric tonnes per annum to 450,000 metric tonnes per annum of LPG in the past 14 years.
“Nigeria needs 1.2 million metric tonnes per annum, but even the 450,000 we produce cannot be absorbed by the market’s current infrastructure.
“We only operate in the midstream sub sector of the industry so we are only responsible for supplying to the market.
“The downstream players are responsible for the distribution to the end users, and also building the infrastructure to ensure it is done efficiently. It is out of our scope.”
He assured the public that the company would grow its LPG capacity if it confirmed that distributors could take up additional supply.
FirstBank Expands International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces Commitment to Customer Service
In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner. With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.
Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world.
Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.
In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.
Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.
We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”
FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.
Unity Bank Collaborate to Fund N15.5bn Equipment for Julius Berger
Unity Bank Plc, in company of other banks has facilitated a credit facility of N15.5bn for the acquisition of trucks and equipment to Julius Berger Plc.
The group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SCOA Nigeria Plc, Dr Massad Boulos, has appreciated the gesture.
A statement from SCOA said that SCOA presented 33 MAN platform trucks and equipment to Julius Berger to be deployed for the construction of the 380 kilometre Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roads.
The banks that funded the acquisition were Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Limited, Zenith Bank Plc, Providus Bank Limited, Wema Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Union Bank Plc and Coronation Merchant Bank Limited.
Boulos said, “I commend Unity Bank, their MD and the members of the executive management; and the entire team of banks who have worked closely with us on this project.”
Mr Ralph Brendicke, the representative of the MD of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr Lars Richter, said the trucks and other equipment would help the company expand its field capacity and increase the speed of execution leading to timely completion of the highly anticipated project.
The MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun, represented by the Directorate Head, Lagos and South West Zone, Mr Wale Ogunride, was quoted as saying, “We looked at the strategic importance of this project and how such infrastructure could contribute to stimulating economic activity and decided that Unity Bank must play its part.
“Unity Bank will continue to provide support to such projects as we have been doing in other critical sectors of the economy such as agriculture.”
In a separate statement, the Executive Director of Wema Bank, Mr Oluwole Ajimisinmi, was quoted as saying that his bank was delighted to be one of the institutions to support SCOA in the project.
He also encouraged and solicited for more local content in order to create more jobs.