👤 By Adenike Lucas, DENISAURUS News
The Bill to make the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU independent as required by a world financial body, was listed by the Senate in its order paper on May 2, 2018.
An amended legislation, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (Est, etc) Bill, 2018 (SB. 535) was first proposed after DENISAURUS News exclusively reported the suspension of the NFIU from the Egmont Group last year (May 7, 2017).
The Egmont Group, a united body of 152 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), said the suspension was a consequence of Ibrahim Mustafa Magu – the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, leaking confidential documents to media allies.
The nomination of Mr Magu, a newly promoted Commissioner of Police as the fourth substantive chairman of the EFCC was rejected by NASS on December 16, 2016 and March 15, 2017, following an indicting report from the Department of State Security Services, DSS.
The “corrupt” officer was described as a perennial offender who can not change.
Mr Magu was accused of giving confidential document to one retired Air Force Commander, Umar Mohammed to use in exploiting suspects.
Similarly, at the 24th plenary of the Egmont group, which was held in Macao in 2017, Mr Magu, was once again accused of leaking confidential documents.
Mr Magu’s EFCC also failed to share financial intelligence with other law enforcement agencies as required by the international standard agency law.
The group said failure on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information means the NFIU, “is now excluded from all Egmont Group events and activities.”
The Egmont Group requires that the NFIU, presently domiciled at the EFCC must be completely independent from the anti-graft agency.
In a bid to reverse the suspension and prevent a total expulsion, the National Assembly managed to pass the NFIA bill on March 7, 2018.
The NFIA bill had proposed for the NFIU to be moved to the Central Bank of Nigeria. Unfortunately, a lawmaker in the House of Representative, who was a chief of staff to a corrupt EFCC chairman did everything possible to frustrate the proposed legislation.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-corruption, Chukwuka Utazi, has previously spoken about how Kayode Oladele was deliberately sabotaging the effort to lift the suspension with his refusal to cooperate with the NASS.
Citing order 43, Senator Utazi said: “Mr President, you may recall that in the meeting of Egmont Group of financial intelligence in Maco in July last year, Nigeria was suspended with a further threat of expulsion if before the next meeting of Egmont Group which is coming up by 11th of March, that if we don’t put our house in order, we will be finally expelled.
“The expulsion has dire consequences on this country, our financial institutions cannot do anything, our credit cards will no longer amount to anything, Nigeria will be degraded to the high risk nation. Even the corruption perception index we are complaining about is a child’s play to what we are going to face in few days to come,” he went on to add.
Even with the threat of exclusion, President Muhammadu Buhari still did not give the NFIA bill the Presidential assent.
Instead, a source familiar with the matter said the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was the one who dissuaded President Buhari from signing the bill into law.
Senator Ahmed Lawan tabled a new bill called the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU Bill today. But, DENISAURUS News is not sure if the bill was debated at all.
The bill setting the autonomy of the NFIU from the EFCC, needs to be passed before the financial body meets again in June.
But, Government sources have questioned the new bill sponsored by the leader of the Senate, Senator Lawan.
They believe it is a backdoor attempt of passing an outline drafted by Honourable Oladele in conjunction with Professor Osinbajo.
Honourable Oladele’s draft if passed, will ensure that the NFIU remains at the EFCC – which negates the requirement of the Egmont Group.