The National Assembly has finally passed the bill to make the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) autonomous. This bill will mean that Nigeria gets to be reconsidered by the Egmont Group and may not face a ban after all.
We had earlier reported an impending ban on the NFIU by the Egmont group. The group threatened to expel Nigeria permanently by March 11, if the Nigerian government failed to grant the NFIU autonomy as a body outside the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Senate passed the bill after considering the committee report presented by the chairman of the anti-corruption committee, Chukwuka Utazi, on Wednesday. Although, the bill seeking to make NFIU autonomous was passed by the Senate in July 2017, it had since been delayed by the House of Representatives. Senate President, Bukola Saraki, commended the executives for making sure the bill was passed , as it will ensure the independence of the unit.
I will like to thank the members of this senate for the fight against corruption because our suspension from the Egmont Group has a lot of ramifications. I hope that by this conference report, they (Egmont) will have a second view and readmit us. I hope that the executive will quickly assent and ensure the independence of the unit.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, also commended the National Assembly Committees on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption for the report, which will ensure Nigeria is not expelled from the Group.
A comprehensive bill is set to be sent to the President to sign before the deadline day on March 11.
Egmont Group is an international organisation that helps Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) in member-nations to share information confidentially. Such information is used to fight money-laundering, financing for terrorist groups, and other suspicious transactions. It has 152 members including Nigeria.