The Nigerian Senate Wednesday postponed the third reading of the 2019 Appropriation Bill till Tuesday.

The Senate has thrown its weight behind financial guidelines for Local Governments recently introduced by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

The NFIU on Monday issued a guideline which prevents state governments from making withdrawals from local governments’ funds.

The new guideline mandates financial institutions to distribute funds accruable to local governments among the local government councils of that state and not for other purposes.

“With effect from June 1, any bank that allows any transaction from any local government account without monies first reaching a particular local government account will be sanctioned 100 per cent, locally and internationally.

“In addition, a provision is also made to the effect that there shall be no cash withdrawal from any local government account for a cumulative amount exceeding N500,000 per day,” the Monday statement read.

Presenting a motion on the recent development, Sabi Abdullahi (Niger-APC), said issuance of the new guidelines was prompted by threats by international financial watchdogs to sanction Nigeria because of financial abuse.

He added that the NFIU guidelines would reinforce the existence of Local Government as an independent government established by the Constitution at the grassroots level with sovereign and elected officials

“The Senate further agrees that the NFlU guidelines do not serve any purpose other than freeing the Financial System from being flooded with cash which criminals use to escape transparency, accountability, and criminal investigation,” he said.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, urged the Senate to liaise with the NFIU to ensure that the guidelines do not contradict with any part of the Constitution.

He appealed to state assemblies to fast-track their work on pending constitutional amendments which would give legal backing to local government autonomy.

His position was supported by Adamu Aliero (Kebbi-APC), George Akume (Benue-APC), and Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Na’Allah.

Plateau Senator, Jonah Jang, however, wanted the motion to be withdrawn.

“Let this motion be withdrawn and let the appropriate constitutional amendment be put in place,” he said.

His prayer was denied by his colleagues.

They resolved to urge all financial institutions to support the implementation of the new guidelines and the federal government to urgently fund the operations of the new NFIU.

They also urged the 36 state governments to fully support the implementation of the new NFIU guidelines while calling on state assemblies to hasten constitutional amendment as regards local government autonomy.

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