National Assembly Passes NFIU Bill, Cuts Down EFCC, Police Powers

Henrietta Brewer
March 10, 2018

NFIU was operating under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before it was suspended by Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units in July 2017 for not being independent.

The EGMONT Group is a network of 152-member countries that share information relating to criminal intelligence and financial information.

Oladele explained that there were some differences in what the House passed and what the Senate passed, and that a conference committee was thereafter constituted by the National Assembly to reconcile and harmonise the differences of the two versions passed.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to make Nigeria's Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), now under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), totally independent.

The report is expected to be considered today.

The Senate and House of Representatives had differed over the passage of the bill establishing the NFIU as an independent entity.

Parliament acted after the Egmont Group, a body of 155 Financial Intelligence Units worldwide, threatened to delist Nigeria unless its own unit gained autonomy, enabling it to deal with financial crimes more effectively.

The bill also provides that the head of the unit should be called a director and that the appointment of the director should be subject to Senate confirmation.

"It is important that we consider the report tomorrow so that Nigeria will be out of the suspension and be counted among the comity of nations in the EGMONT Group, " he added.

"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". What used to obtain was a hybrid type where you have enforcement as well as administrative functions put together because it was domiciled in the EFCC.

At the House of Representatives, members in plenary, simply adopted the recommendations of the report at a session presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun.

He argued that if the issue of domiciliation had been resolved in favour of the EFCC as earlier recommended by the House, the NFIU could have benefited from the "policing powers of the EFCC" to do its job.

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

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