By Seyi Anjorin
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has expressed satisfaction over the prompt response by the Senate to Nigeria’s suspension from the EGMONT Group of Financial Intelligence Units recently through the accelerated passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA) bill Thursday.
Salihu Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice revealed this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, the AGF is excited with the expeditious manner the Senate has approached the legislative process since the suspension of Nigeria as a member of the EGMONT Group was made public and which led to the resultant passage of the bill.
The Minister believes that with this effort by the National Assembly, Nigeria is on the verge of not only escaping the impending expulsion, the nation will continue to strive to earn its full membership status as soon as possible.
Malami particularly commended the Senate leadership, especially its President, Bukola Saraki and the chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Chukwuka Utazi.
The AGF therefore urged the House of Representatives to adopt the spirit of the Senate by promptly aligning with its position so that the Bill would be assented to in the next couple of days by the Presidency.
When this is done, it will ensure that Nigeria escapes the expulsion threat by the Egmont Group and the obvious embarrassment it will cause the nation.
It would be recalled that at its 24th Plenary of the Group held in Macao, a Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) from July 2-7, 2017, chaired by Sergio Espinosa, chair of the Egmont Group, Nigeria was suspended for lack of the independence of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Besides, its decision by consensus to clampdown on Nigeria arose from repeated failures on the part of the NFIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information, specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges.
The Group however, expressed its hope that the Nigerian authorities will address these concerns to enable it lift the suspension as soon as possible.
About 354 participants representing 112 Financial Intelligence Units were in attendance at the meeting.