NIGERIAN Governors Forum, NGF,
has joined ranks with the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission,
EFCC, to reject autonomy for the
Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit,
NFIU.
They insisted that it must be
retained as a unit under the EFCC.
But in a swift move, the Nigerian
Law Reform Commission, NLRC,
civil society groups and the
Independent Corrupt Practices and
other related offences Commission,
ICPC, kicked against the EFCC and
the NGF’s position.
The various groups spoke at a oneday
public hearing organised by the
House of Representatives Committee
on Financial Crimes on an act to
amend the EFCC (Establishment Act,
2017).
Speaking for the EFCC, Secretary
of the agency, Mr. Emmanuel
Adegboyega Aremo, argued that
“giving NFIU autonomy outside the
EFCC will endanger it”, adding that
“NFIU needs a protective shield from
politicians; if you leave it to survive
alone it will be endangered and
exposed to danger”.
He explained that “in the entire
universe, only three tiny countries
have autonomous FIUs and what the
Edmont Group wants is for it to have
autonomy within the EFCC”.
Aremo said that the enabling act
establishing it should be amended to
give it the powers to retain five percent
of recoveries from the proceeds of
crime by corrupt public officials.
He added that the five percent
of recoveries it proposes to retain
is a far cry when compared to the
percentage of the proceed of crimes
being retained by anti-graft agencies
of other neighbouring African nations
on a similar situation.
The agency also informed the
lawmakers that it returned over
N34 million to crime suspects who
were later found to be unwarranted
arrests in 2017 alone and assured of
its readiness to return every kobo
illegally taken with interest.
Supporting the EFCC, the Director-
General, Nigeria Governors Forum,
Mr. Ashishana Okauro, noted that “As
a foundation member of the EFCC, I
know what the Edmont Group wants
and it is autonomy within the EFCC.
“It is baffling that ten years after
we were registered with the Edmont
Group, we have been suspended and
we stand to lose more if we are finally
expelled from the group.
“From Nigeria we may not be able
to make scholarship payments and
card monies may not be honoured if
we are finally expelled”, he stated.
But countering the agencies, a
commissioner at the Nigeria Law
Reform Commission, NLRC, Prof.
Jummai Audi, said “NFIU should
be independent and an autonomous
body separate from the EFCC.
“The Nigerian Law Reform lauds
the initiative, but recommends
the establishment of NFIU as an
independent and autonomous body
separate from the EFCC rather than as
a unit as proposed in the bills”.
Audi noted that the bill is a good
idea, saying “the commission
recommends the establishment of
the NFIU as an independent and
autonomous body separate from the
EFCC as proposed”, saying this will
ensure that Nigeria complies with the
requirements of the Egmont Group of
Financial Intelligence Units.
She explained that Nigeria was
suspended from Egmont Group for
lack of autonomy in the real sense of
the NFIU and this position has not
been addressed by the bill. According
to her, “a better approach to address
the issue of autonomy of the NFIU
is a bill passed by the Senate on the
establishment of NFIU as a unit
independent of the EFCC.
“The Egmont Group requires
that the NFIU be independent
and autonomous to guarantee its
effectiveness in countering terrorist
financing, money laundering and
fighting corruption”, she stated.
The commission also called for the
appointment of a chairman for the
EFCC, separate from the executive
chairman, arguing that the present
composition where “the chairman/
chief executive of the EFCC is also
the chair of the board that ought to
supervise the EFCC’’.
She argued that the composition
eliminates checks and balances and
suggested that a retired chief justice
or justice of a superior court of record
be made board chairman, while the
chief executive will be a member of
the board and head of the secretariat.
The NLRC also rejected the
proposal for the retention of five
percent of recovered confiscated
asset monies from suspects and
convicts because the EFCC ought
to have a comprehensive budget
proposal from the onset in such a
way that it will not contemplate
the use of any confiscated asset
or money or resources for its
operations.
A representative from the office
of the Attorney-General of the
Federation, AGF, Mr. Anthony
Abba, simply told the lawmakers
that a committee to harmonise
the various positions of the
stakeholders would be set up to by
the AGF.
While declaring the public
hearing open, Speaker Yakubu
Dogara represented by the Deputy
Whip, Pally Iriase, said “no country
can develop with the high level of
corruption in Nigeria.
“Despite various government
efforts to enact laws to curb
corruption it is fast threatening
our culture in Nigeria, but once
these laws are passed, it will clear
some of these internal and external
challenges.’’
Representative of the
Human Rights Environmental
Development Agency, Mr.
Olarenwaju Surajo, backed the
NLRC in rejecting the proposal
to keep the NFIU as a unit of the
EFCC.

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