The Central Bank of Nigeria has denied being under any form of political pressure to back down on its new policy which limits cash withdrawals and is threatening to deal with banks that will frustrate the policy.
The apex bank also said the policy stems from its mandate and was also not politically induced.
The Director Banking Supervision Department of CBN, Haruna Bala Mustafa, said this on an Arise TV programme monitored by journalists.
Mustafa said, “We are apolitical. There is no pressure from any quarters. This is in the ordinary discharge of our statutory responsibility and like I mentioned this is about Nigeria and enhancing the efficacy of our payment system.
“There is no pressure on us. We want Nigerians to reason with us. This is all about them. In one or two years down the road we will look back and be happy that we took this decision. We need to make this sacrifice for the benefit of our country.”
To push CBN’s quest for a cashless society, the bank made a shocking announcement restricting over-the-counter withdrawals for individuals to N100,000 and for corporates N500,000.
Exceeding the ceiling would attract a five per cent and 10 per cent charge for individuals and corporates respectively. The policy will be effective on January 9, 2023.
The bank also limited ATM withdrawals to N20,000 daily, a move believed would help track spending and curb corruption.
Since the policy was announced on November 6, 2022, Nigerians are questioning about the implication of the policy on the millions who are not financially included.
Lawyers believe the law infringes on the right of citizens to have access to their money, while others believe it would frustrate the 133 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty.
The Nigerian Senate is also worried and would deliberate on the matter.
Mustafa said, “This bold policy will be a silver bullet to address issues addressing the Nigerian economy. It will interest you to know that a broad segment of our population will not be impacted negatively by this policy. Over 90 per cent of Nigerians do transactions below N500,000 and also less than that do N100,000 and below.
“There are no sacred cows. Any aiding and abating of this policy will be severely sanctioned and we are very resolute about this. We have the antimoney laundry, we have the terrorism prevention laws, Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act that codifies all the sanctions and penalties that will be imposed.
“This is about Nigeria. The majority of Kenyans prefer cashless payment and why not Nigerians? We appeal for understanding. This is about the future of this country.”
Musa Itopa Jimo, Director, Payments System Management Department of the CBN in his contribution said Nigerians still have full access to their money, contrary to the outrage that the policy infringes on the right of Nigerians to access their money.
Jimo said, “The CBN is not preventing you from taking your money. Your money is your money. If you go to a bank and you want to withdraw your money, you can withdraw it but we only put a threshold and there are other options you can withdraw your money.
“It is not only through cash that you can access your money. You can access your money in cash and in electronic form. A lot of Nigerians do electronic transactions.
“We started cashless policy since 2012. We used to have a regime where you practically beg a shop to get a POS or acce[pted payments. Today Business outlets are begging banks to come and deploy a POS terminal.”
He said the CBN wants to have accurate data about money supply and monetary aggregates.