… Reps vote to make unit independent
Fred Itua; Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The National Assembly is set to forward a harmonised, clean version of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
In the new version, federal lawmakers have agreed that the NFIU be independent but would be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking after chairman of the Committee on Financial Crimes, Chukwuka Utazi, laid the report of the conference committee on the table in the chamber, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the National Assembly will work round the clock to ensure that Nigeria escapes a planned expulsion by Egmont Group on March 11.
Ekweremadu said the report will be adopted today, Wednesday, after which it will be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for immediate assent.
“Both houses have met and. They have harmonised. This is an important bill.
“I am glad that you have been able to reach an agreement with your colleagues in the House of Representatives. This is a great move.
“It will help Nigeria escape any suspension by the Egmont Group.
“Hopefully, we will pass this tomorrow so that we can do this to avoid putting Nigerians under any form of hardship,” Ekweremadu told his colleagues.
The agreement was sealed at a conference committee meeting between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Consequently, the House of Representatives, yesterday, adopted the conference report to make the NFIU autonomous.
The report, which was presented to the House at yesterday’s plenary by the chairman of the Committee on Financial Crimes, Kayode Oladele, was adopted after a consideration of a lthe 38 clauses in the bill in the Committee of the Whole, chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun.
Buhari’s assent to the bill will ensure that Nigeria remains a member of Egmont Group, a network of 152 member countries sharing information on financial crimes.
Lasun said failure to pass the bill in record time would mean that credit cards from Nigeria would no longer be valid as from March 11, when the Egmont Group threatened to expel the country.
In July, 2017, the Egmont Group, suspended NFIU at its 24th plenary of the Heads in Macao. The group also explained that the NFIU was suspended because the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where NFIU is currently domiciled, was leaking sensitive information to the media.
The Egmont Group equally accused the EFCC of blackmailing individuals with the confidential intelligence made available to it.