Against the backdrop of Senate’s concurrence on amendment of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill, to domicile the agency in the Central Bank of Nigeria, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said the National Assembly has done its part in saving Nigeria from expulsion from the Egmont Group.
Saraki said this following adoption of the Conference Committee Report on the NFIU by the Senate yesterday.
He noted that the National Assembly’s passage of the bill was prompt, so as to facilitate Nigeria’s re-admission into the Egmont Group rather than being expelled and that when assented to (by President Muhammadu Buhari), it would make the NFIU an independent entity and also help the country in the fight against corruption.
In the amended Act, the NFIU will now be domiciled in the CBN, instead of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a situation which led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Egmont Group.
After suspending Nigeria, the Egmont Group had demanded that the NFIU be pulled out of the EFCC, among other requirements.
The bill was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Saraki, in his remarks, thanked the Chairman of the Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi, and all senators, for their work on the bill. He also said their action will ensure that Nigeria remains a member of the Egmont Group.
“I hope that with this (NFIU) bill that we have passed today (yesterday), this conference report, they will have a second view and re-admit us (Nigeria) into the process (Egmont Group).
“I hope, on the part of the executive, they will quickly assent to this bill and also ensure that the independence of the financial unit goes beyond just signing this bill into law.
“It is important that we see it being practised-this is very important. I hope, on their part, this will be done so that our country stays as part of the Egmont Group that has a lot of benefits for our fight against corruption. I thank you all, my colleagues, for how quickly you responded to this. You came quickly to save the country,” the Senate president said.
Banking transactions above a stipulated threshold are automatically sent to the FIU.
Nigeria suffers from rampant graft and is fighting Boko Haram militants in the North East, who have killed more than 20,000 people since 2009 and displaced two million others in an insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic State.
Meanwhile, the senate president has also revealed that since the Eighth Senate was inaugurated in June 2015, it has confirmed 227 out of 240 nominees that it received from the executive.
Speaking after the confirmation of Ibrahim Rufai Imam, as the new grand khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal, Saraki said: “I hope Ibrahim Rufai Imam continues to play his role in the Judiciary and wish him a successful tenure.”