Governors of the 36 States in Nigerian have opposed the Buhari government’s announcement that direct allocation to local government councils will begin June 1.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) had announced a ban on transactions on state and local governments joint accounts.
The NFIU also placed a limit on cash withdrawals from local governments accounts to a maximum of N500,000 per day.
In a statement by NGF’s head of media, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, on Sunday, the governors said the agency was going beyond its brief.
It quoted Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who signed a protest letter to the federal government as expressing “dismay and angst at this brazen attempt by the NFIU to ridicule our collective integrity and show total disregard for the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.”
The NGF Letter was titled “Re: NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawal from Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria Effective June 1st, 2019, and dated May 15th, 2019.”
The governors said they extracted “copiously from the constitution” to draw the attention of the president to section (6) (a) and (b) “which confers on the States and National Assemblies the powers to make provisions for statutory allocation of Public revenue to the Local Councils in the Federation and within the states respectively.”
The governors added, Section 162 (6) expressly “provides for the creation of the States Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) into which shall be paid all allocations to the LGAs of the State from the Federation Account and from the government of the state.”
The governors accused the NFIU of “stoking mischief and also deliberately seeking to cause disaffection, chaos and overheat the polity.”
According to them, local governments are not reporting entities and are therefore not under the NFIU in the manner contemplated by the NFIU so-called guidelines.
“In principle, the NFIU should concentrate on its core mandate of Anti-money laundering AML activities and Combatting financing Terrorism CTF as prescribed in the Act establishing it and should desist from encroaching on or even breaching constitutional provisions,” the statement quoted the governors as saying.
“The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) is the Nigerian arm of the global financial intelligence Units (FIUs) once domiciled within the EFCC but now for the purpose of institutional location domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“This means the NFIU is only mandated to trace or track laundered money that finds its way into terrorism financing and report such to the nation’s security agencies.
“The NFIU should seek to comply with those standards on combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and its proliferation as stipulated and not dabble into matters that are both constitutional and beyond NFIU purview,” the governors said.