Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) new cash withdrawal limit is illegal.
Recall that the CBN recently ordered Deposit Money Banks (DMOs) and other financial institutions to ensure that weekly over-the-counter (OTC) cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.
Reacting to this via a statement released on Monday, December 12, Falana said the directive is “illegal, null and void” because it contravenes the country’s law.
The statement read;
MAXIMUM WITHDRAWAL LIMIT IS N5 MILLION IN NIGERIA
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered Deposit Money Banks (DMOs) and other financial institutions to ensure that weekly over-the-counter (OTC) cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500,000, respectively. The regulatory directives that will take effect nationwide from January 9, 2023, have limited the maximum cash withdrawal per week via Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) to N100,000 subject to a maximum of N20,000 cash withdrawal per day.
It is embarrassing that the Central Bank of Nigeria has been making announcements without any regard to the Constitution and other relevant laws on the national economy. It is particularly worrisome that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has purportedly placed a limitation on cash withdrawals in Nigeria in complete defiance of section 2 of the Money Laundering Act, 2022 which provides as follows:
“2.(1) No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding (a)5,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual ; or (b) N10,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of a body corporate.
(2) A person shall not conduct two or more transactions separately with one or more financial institutions or designated non-financial businesses and professions with intent to (a) avoid the duty to report a transaction which should be reported under this Act ; and (b) breach the duty to disclose information under this act by any other means.”
Since the Money Laundering Act 2022 (which has fixed maximum cash withdrawal to N5 million) has not been amended the limitation of cash withdrawal of not more than N20,000 per day and N100,000 per week fixed by the Central Bank of Nigeria is illegal, null and void in every material. We urge the Nigerian people to ignore the illegal announcement.
However, we are compelled to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the management of the CBN to withdraw the illegal guideline and stop announcing more policies that are designed to sentence poor citizens to more excruciating economic hardship.
FEMI FALANA SAN,
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)
December 12, 2022