Dogara faults Senate passage of Bill granting autonomy to NFIU
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has opposed the attempt by the Senate to move the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU), from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to the National Assembly, saying it would kill the fight against financial crimes.
It will be recalled that the Senate this week amended the NFIU Act, inexplicably removing the agency from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to National Assembly.
Dogara’s position s however in conflict with Egmont Group’s threat to expel Nigeria from the 153-member group, which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering activities if it failed to comply with the group’s demands for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU by January 2018
The implications of Nigeria’s expulsion would seriously affect its current effort to track and recover stolen funds stashed abroad by corrupt elements.
The federal government is currently seeking to recover funds laundered globally by politically exposed persons and their associates.
Another major dire consequence will be the blacklisting of Nigeria in international finance, and this could affect the issuance of Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards by Nigerian banks.
It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some big-ticket international transactions.
Nigeria’s admittance into the group in 2007 is considered to be one of the biggest achievements of the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Dogara’s comment is contained in the current edition of EFCC Newsletter known as EFCCAlert made available to newsmen.
The newsletter quotes Dogara as saying, “I sincerely believe that for the EFCC to be effective, it needs to exercise some kind of control over that unit [NFIU] in the sense that in most cases, the hard core evidence that is needed to secure convictions may rest on the activities of that unit.
“Now if you have taken the unit out of EFCC and conferred some kind of independence on the agency running the unit, you will have inter-agency rivalry and that, sincerely speaking, may harm our fight against corruption more than the good granting them autonomy may bring to the system.
“So, if we are talking about inability to secure convictions, I believe the journey must begin where you can control all the avenues that give you that quality and sound evidence that you need to tender before the judge to secure convictions.
“If we start granting autonomy to some of the units, and then instead of cooperating, we are having inter-agency rivalry, you will further frustrate the battle against corruption.
“What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. Sincerely, I believe that the NFIU should be under the EFCC. Even if in some jurisdiction, it is independent, for the reasons I have mentioned, that if you create an independent unit, you will be encouraging inter-agency rivalry. In Nigeria, sadly, it is very difficult for independent agencies to cooperate.
Adding a voice to Dogara, the Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon. Kayode Oladele, also warned that any attempt to pull the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) out of the EFCC, is tantamount to a palace coup aimed at whittling the powers of the anti-graft agency, and by extension render the NFIU a toothless bulldog.