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Angry reactions as Nigeria announces mandatory bank self-certification

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said anyone who fail to register and submit their self-certification forms risk forfeiture of their bank accounts and other assets with financial institutions.

FIRS’s warning came after it announced that it is mandatory for all Nigerians operating bank accounts to register for self-certification at their respective banks.

“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions,” FIRS chairman Muhammad Nami said in a circular on Thursday.

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“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions is required to complete and submit the form to each one of the institutions.”

Nami explained that “the forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.”

The FIRS boss noted that self-certification form is in 3 categories- form for entity, for controlling person (individuals having a controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc) and form for individual holders of bank accounts.

“Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account,” Nami said.

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The new requirement by the agency of the Nigerian government was not accepted by many Nigerians who criticised the government’s inability to harness all the data collected from people in the past.

Currently, Nigeria has multiple citizen’s collection data platforms – the Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), passport, driver’s license, SIM card registration and voters’ card. Persons without any of these cannot own and operate any bank account in Nigeria.

Many believed that all information required in the self-certification form has already been replicated in the existing citizens’ data platforms.

Others, however, argued that the new directive is part of the government’s plot to allegedly take control of their accounts for the multiplicity of taxation.

A spokesman for Ahmad Lawan, Nigeria’s Senate president, Abubakar Usman said the directive will impose additional stress on Nigerians.

“For the past months, entering banks has been hell as a result of restrictions brought about by Covid-19 and now FIRS want us to go to each bank and fill form. Common,” Usman tweeted.

“What is BVN meant to serve if FIRS want us to go and do self certification?”

Other Nigerians are also not pleased with the directive.



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