Human rights advocate, Femi Falana, has kicked against the new cash withdrawal policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
On December 6, the CBN directed banks and other financial institutions to limit weekly over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.
The policy, which is expected to take effect nationwide from January 9, 2023, has elicited varied reactions among Nigerians.
Reacting to the policy, Falana, in a statement on Monday, said the apex bank’s new cash withdrawal limit was “illegal and null” and contravenes provisions of section 2 of the money laundering act, 2022.
The human rights advocate said section 2 of the act, limits cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities to N5 million and N10 million, respectively.
He argued that since the act has not been amended, the new CBN policy is “null and void”.
“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,” Falana said.
“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.”
What the law says
Meanwhile, section 2 of the money laundering act 2022 states thus:
“(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) N5,000,000 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.”