March 21, 2018

Senate approves conference report on NFIU autonomy

10 March 2018, 02:04 | Lena Norman

Reps pass bill seeking to make NFIU autonomous

House of Reps probes missing $202m unaccounted for by NIA

Specifically, Section 2 (c) of the EFCC Act provides that the commission (EFCC) "is the designated Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in Nigeria, which is charged with the responsibility of coordinating the various institutions involved in the fight against any money laundering and enforcement of all laws dealing with economic and financial crimes in Nigeria".

DAILY POST reports that the EGMONT Group is a network of 152 member countries that share information relating to criminal intelligence and financial information.

At the Senate yesterday, the report of the conference committee of both chambers was laid by Senator Chukwuka Utazi.

Following worldwide pressure, the law makes the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit an independent body that can share information with similar agencies overseas.

A threat of permanent expulsion from the Egmont Group is hanging over Nigeria if by March 11, the NFIU has not been granted full financial and operational autonomy.

If expelled, the country will suffer a blacklist in the global finance sector and Nigerian Banks will be unable to issue Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards while card transactions with Nigerian originated cards will be blocked.

The PUNCH had reported exclusively on Tuesday that the report would be passed on Tuesday.

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The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki expressed concern that Nigeria's suspension from the EGMONT Group had some consequences.

"The House version states that the head of the agency should be called director, while the Senate version states that the head of the agency should be called director-general; the House version was adopted".

The House position which was jettisoned by the conference was that the NFIU should continue to be domiciled in EFCC.

He warned that failure to pass the bill ahead of the next Egmont Group meeting would cause a major economic crisis for Nigeria.

Only last week, Utazi accused his counterpart in the House of attempting to derail the process of having a legal framework that would guarantee independence of the NFIU.

To this effect, the report was considered in a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives, in order to lift the suspension and to retain NFIU in the Egmont group.

The lawmakers eventually met on Monday evening and came up with the report.

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