In six states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State, has ruled against the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) cashless policy, which requires bank customers depositing or withdrawing a specified amount of cash to pay financial taxes.
The imposed levies are a certain percentage of the amount deposited or withdrawn.
The judgment followed a suit filed by an Anambra State-based legal practitioner, Chijioke Ifediora, against CBN.
He argued that the policy was indeed discriminatory and that it violates Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution in Anambra, Abia, Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Rivers, and FCT, where the apex bank has been enforcing the discriminatory policy, Daily Trust reports.
Ifediora said, “There is no constitutional foundation/pillar for such discriminatory policy nor is any statutory enabler for such biased circular.”
However, the counsel for the CBN, Jackson Iragunima, in his submission contended that the policy was not discriminatory.
Iragunima said it is for the well-being of the country.
He also noted that the plaintiff did not have the authority of all the citizens and corporate institutions residing in the said states and FCT to institute the action on their behalf.
But in his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice N.O. Dimgba agreed with the plaintiff that the CBN policy was discriminatory and that it offends Section 42 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“I have reviewed the policy document as contained in the website of the defendant (CBN) as well as the implementing circulars and I am unable to see any rational and objective justification for the selective imposition of financial penalties against residents of the named six states and the FCT for making cash withdrawals and lodgements/deposits over the stipulated threshold,” the judge said.
He also noted that the policy, rather than promote a cashless economy, it encourages the proliferation of cash by traders who rather keep their cash than lodge it and pay financial levies of 2% and 3% of the amount.