Senate passes financial intelligence Bill

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has passed the Bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit NFIU as an autonomous Agency outside the control and supervision of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The proposed law when assented to by the President, would establish the NFIU as a central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing, and disseminating financial intelligence reports and other information to law enforcement Agents, Security and Intelligence Agencies, including other relevant authorities.

Senate’s passage of the Bill followed the consideration of the report of it’s committee on anti corruption and Financial Crimes, presented by the Chairman, Senator Chukwuka Utazi during thursday’s plenary.

The Bill was passed for third reading within one week, having scaled through first reading last Thursday, and second reading on Tuesday this week.

It would be recalled that the Senate had in a five point resolution reached last week, noted that it has become necessary to empower the NFIU to exchange and relate with all countries on issues affecting its mandate at bilateral and multi lateral levels, in line with international best practices, and requirements of the EGMONT Group.

Senate also urged the three line Ministries of justice, finance, and interio to ensure that Nigeria’s suspension is immediately reversed, and that Nigeria meets all the conditions specified by the EGMONT Group for re-admittance and improvement of Nigeria’s standing within the Group.

The Senate urged the Executive branch of the government to include in any supplementary budget estimate that may be presented to the National Assembly before the end of 2017, a seperate budget for the NFIU in view of the need to lift the suspension of Nigeria as soon as possible.

President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki had in a remark, noted that Nigeria must prove her status as a Nation committed to the war against financial crimes and other forms of corruption.

We must move swiftly to ensure the lifting of the suspension, and the earlier we get this done, the better for Nigeria,” the Senate President stated.

The EGMONT Group is a network of national financial intelligence units, and It is the highest inter-governmental Association of intelligence agencies in the world, with about 152 member countries or state parties sitting regularly for the purposes of sharing criminal intelligence and Financial information.

They also engage on issues bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms, corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and similar offences geared towards the support of local and international investigation, prosecutions, and asset recovery.

Confidence Okwuchi