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Forensic Professionals Replies APBN Over Establishment Of CIFIPN Bill

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RE-JOINDER TO ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL BODIES OF NIGERIA (APBN)’s CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE BILL FOR AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA (CIFIPN) 2019 BEFORE THE PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR FOR ASSENT

Ordinarily, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria as a body made up well-groomed professionals would have ignored the rather shameful comments of the APBN so as not to dignify them with any response but for the chequered history of mischief makers who have continued to group themselves in the name of bodies or associations to frustrate the realization of this noble cause, this is so unfortunate. APBN is an enemy of Nigeria and not just CIFIPN. What a country we found ourselves like this?

Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) being sponsored by a desperate professional body against the Bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) has been on media advising President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR not to assent to the Bill. They went further to send letters to government agencies where the President sent the Bill to for comment, and told them to give negative comments on the Bill. We belief that no responsible government agencies will listen to the antics APBN and their sponsor, because they are just being mischievous and malicious. It is on record that Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria has interfered and interfering with Presidential Assent process on CIFIPN Bill by sending letters to various government organisations where the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria sent the Bill for an Act to establish Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) to for independent comments before he can take his decision of the Bill. This kind of action taken by APBN is illegal and should be condemned by the stake holders.

One of the biggest problems confronting Nigeria today is fraud, corruption and Cyber Crimes. This cankerworm has eaten deep into the great fortune of our dear nation over time resulting to economic challenges like underdevelopment, rising unemployment situations, retrenchments, poor infrastructural development and decay as well as national insecurity. Sometimes, one gets disappointed looking at the position or state of affairs of the Nigerian economy with particular reference to the above mentioned ills. It has been quite embarrassing that, under the close watch of professional bodies like those mentioned by APBN in their Daily Trust Publications which includes, NSE,ICAN, NMA, CIBN, NBA, CIA,NIPR and NIESV amongst others whose occupy key positions in large and multi- national companies including the government could not spare the Nigerian economy out of this menace of corrupt and fraudulent practices that have tarnished the image of Nigeria all over the world.

Indeed, attributing this observed lapses to lack of capacity or technical know – how on members of these professional bodies might be construed to be mincing of words. It will suffice to state that, the Chairmen, MD and External auditors and Audit Committee members of business entities have been busy seeking for their selfish interest, motives that have failed Nigerians. In every organization public or private, we have members of APBN fully represented therein.

They may be found carrying out one executive role or otherwise; the question one may ask is, which responsibility have they ever carried out towards curbing over pricing of contract values, over pricing of procured items, duplication of contracts, prevention of payroll fraud, collapse of banks, collapse of Cadbury Nigeria, looting of government treasury, the usage of fake building materials resulting to incessant collapse of buildings and so on ?

There are lots of instances at public disposal to attest to and why APBN should remain silent or quiet without any insinuation or oppose to the assent to the bill establishing the Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) before President Mohammadu Buhari even when hired to do so by some politicized professional bodies. Indeed, it is something of shame to APBN members that under their watch and self – seeking interest, corruption in Nigeria escalated to a proportion beyond control today. APBN, your tutelage to clients to conceal corrupt and fraudulent practices in the field instead of ensuring the defences of investments of investors, stakeholders interest for sustainability, growth and the like, today you are warring against CIFIPN already equipped with resources – men and technology to partner with relevant government agencies to arrest the menace of corruption and fraudulent practices abated by your self-interest wisdom and parochial interest.

APBN should be ashamed for loss of public confidence, you destroyed and sold Nigeria to the capricious menace of corruption and fraudulent practices. You should be ashamed to air out publically on issues concerning the fight against corruption and fraudulent practices which as an association of professional bodies failed to do or achieve. According to the scriptures,” even though it tarries, joy cometh in the morning”. Nigerians remain grateful to God on the re-election of President Mohammadu Buhari, a dogmatic leader with charisma to war against corruption in Nigeria.

Within the few years of President Mohammadu Buhari administration, repatriation of funds stolen from Nigeria were enforced through collaboration with other anti – corruption agencies. Besides, given anti – corruption mechanisms such as whistle – blowing, environmental policing as well as public slogans as, “ if you see something, say something” have been of great assistance to law enforcement agents.

It is necessary to inform the public that, the emergence of this concept to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) was conceived arising from the huge gap created by the traditional auditing standards on one hand and the recent advancement in technology in recent times which has made the world a global village, but capitalized on by fraudsters who have found comfort to defraud the public and government making it imperative for CIFIPN intervention. Apart from the huge cost incurred by Nigeria through hiring expatriates to carry out forensic investigations which equally can be executed by Nigerians at minimal costs to save foreign reserves.

Landscape for forensic and investigative professionals around many nations of the world is changing in response to the challenge of technology enabled – fraud. Nigerian law appears almost silent on these phenomena. The resultant effect is that there is presently a dearth of forensic and investigative professionals in Nigeria to offer professional support in the mining of evidence needed for the prosecution of fraudsters or administration of justice. Nigeria currently spends huge scarce foreign exchange to retain the services of expatriate forensic professionals to carry out assignments that are better performed by locally trained manpower. Apart from the huge revenue lost by the public and private organizations due to lack of effective anti-fraud mechanisms, this development has profound security implication on the nation and must be reversed through the signing into law the Chartered Institute Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill.

Forensic investigators are to carry out forensic investigations on related matter(s), gathering sufficient appropriate evidence that can be presented in a court of competent jurisdiction for persecution of any erring citizen of Nigeria. For APBN to say that CIFIPN Bill was passed without public hearing shows how desperate they are to scuttle the Bill that is more than their parochial interest. Indeed, it is ridiculous, embarrassing, unpatriotic, misleading and deceitful for APBN to purport that the CIFIPN bill never went through public hearing. Given their propaganda, it is necessary to open up by relating to the public the challenges which the bill went through within the House of Representatives. The bill was seen as merchandise for exchange where the highest bidder takes possession of the commodity. But on the basis of the sponsors of the bill, those who actually knew what the bill entails, it later became difficult for the money bag(s) professional bodies to hijack the bill to make it their own which is the struggle up till today. CIFIPN does not have money to throw about but, believing in God and the generality of Nigerians already aware of the benefits the Forensic Institute will have if annexed as solution provider in this challenging times of our nation waging war with corruption and fraudulent practices.

APBN said that the CIFIPN bill passed will have usurpation impact on the rule of law and the constitutional rights of members bodies of APBN, which among others are already playing the roles that the proposed bill seeks to be assigned” according to APBN. There has never being an established institute of Forensic Investigation in Nigeria nor has any professional body in Nigeria incorporated Forensic Investigations of any kind in her curriculum or object clause. None of the Act of APBN members empowers them to practice forensic of any kind. It is therefore, misleading to state that, Chartered Institute Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill passed will usurp the right of member bodies already playing the roles of CIFIPN. This statement is very bad and bias to have come from APBN.

The question one may readily ask is, where has been these member bodies when Nigeria would outsource the services of expatriates, pay them out of the nation’s foreign reserves to conduct forensic investigations? Where have they been, when the cry for corrupt and fraudulent practices was going on resulting to failure of banks and other limited liability companies? How many forensic investigations have they ever conducted with notable evidence presented in any court of law for persecution of culprits all these years? If one may further ask, which legislation empowers any professional body to tender any document about the client to any court of law when not expressly mandated to do so? APBN as claimed is like a bird without weight and therefore, tossed around to any direction so desired by the wind. It is dancing the drums of obscured artist too; it is like a masquerade where the man on it is unknown until unveiled. But shame can not allow the man behind the masquerade to unveil himself knowing the atrocities committed by the cohorts who claimed to be reservoir of knowledge.

Similarly, members of APBN are not trained forensic investigators; they have no roles connected with forensic sciences as purported in their publications. They should stop misleading the public already dissatisfied with their blatant false –hood.

The influence and pleasure of APBN orchestrated by ICAN was much on the Federal Ministry of Justice to the point that an officer handling the Bill vowed to kill the Bill on the ground that CIFIPN Bill will block ICAN from practicing Forensic in future. It is strange for a civil servant to start making provision for a professional bodies even when they have not been empowered by their Act to do forensic yet. According to him, the Bill must be sent back to National Assembly to enable the opposition take undue advantage of CIFIPN to enable them to bring up their own Act for amendment and make them to be in charge of forensic practice in Nigeria. This is ridiculous. APBN members are not trained forensic professionals, and so can never give what they don’t have. Why is APBN trying to make its members jack of all trades and master on none in a country that is rich with young intellectuals with sound academic background who are ready to give their best for the benefit of Nigerians? This is indeed worrisome.

In an ideal situation, any person with a sound mind will always like to read the long title of a Bill first and understand it, and not to jump into conclusion to discredit the Bill simply because he is being sponsored to do so. The long title said ‘’ An act to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria for effective regulation, registration of members and determination of what standard of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons to become registered members, and qualify to practice as a forensic and investigative Professionals , and for related matter’’

It is an injustice for APBN to allowed itself to be used to scuttle CIFIPN Bill just to enable its member ‘ICAN’ that is not empowered by law just to have their way to amend their Act to include forensic. This level of desperation is strange and fearful. APBN, Why this kind of desperation and confusion? Remember that posterity will never forget to judge all the enemies of Nigeria. APBN should allow Mr President to do his work based on the merit of CIFIPN Bill. APBN need to be called to order at this point.

The Institute of Chartered Accounts of Nigeria opposed the Bill for an Act to established Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) on the ground that ICAN is already empowered under it’s enabling Act to regulate the practice of ‘’forensic audit’’. ICAN Act only empowered her to regulate the practice of Accounting and not forensic auditng. Forensic is an emerging trend and have a very wide scope that cannot be limited to Accounting, but it is multidisciplinary. Please the ICAN Act, APBN member is there to be verified by those who want to know the truth.

Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria should be hiding their faces in shame having accommodated a professional body that have contributed in emptying government Treasury through aiding and abating all these years which has led Nigeria into one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Rather than brandishing their scorecard with impeccable evidence of what the body had achieved over the years, they have opted for cheap black mail, campaign of calumny, disrepute and character assassinations to gain cheap popularity. Of course, all of this is only tending towards oblivion.

Truly sad and quite unfortunate indeed. It smacks like the handwork of some individuals who apparently have certain things they don’t wish the public to know about that are masquerading behind these bodies. For APBN to have allowed themselves to become a tool to be linked with such unethical conduct actually calls for concern from relevant stakeholders in the industries. Even quarks could have been more discerning. They didn’t stop at just discrediting the Forensic Bill, but went ahead to indict the National Assembly for not doing their job. And followed that up by advising the President not assent to the Bill. That was actually biting more than they can chew. It is worrisome, scaring and unthinkable how they arrogated to themselves such oversight functions overnight due to desperation.

For Association of Professional bodies of Nigeria to come so low to the point of writing letters to all the government agencies where CIFIPN Bill were sent to so that they influence them to send negative comments to the President on the CIFIPN Bill, shows how desperate and bias they are. Corruption is fighting back everywhere, and this calls for a serious concern.

Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is anti-fraud organisation saddled with the responsibilities of providing skills for relevant professionals on the use of science and technology for prevention, detection and investigation of fraud, corruption and cyber crimes, and to put in place some sophisticated measures to prevent future occurrence and to stop illicit financial flows in the country. How does this conflict with any Act in Nigeria?

The primary domain of forensic and investigative professionals is to work within the investigative process from the scene of fraud to court, providing information and evidence for administration of justice; CIFIPN ensure that the courts are presented with the best evidence and reliable witnesses. Therefore, the place of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in economic development in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized because it provide the legal framework for the registration, training, regulation and certification of practitioners in line with global best practices; Membership of this body cuts across different professions like Law, criminology, Accounting, Taxation, Investigators, police detectives, Security experts, Psychology, sociology, cyber security etc. Before the Bill was passed by the Nigerian Senate, there was a public hearing on the Bill where Association of Professional bodies, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Accountant General of the Federation and other stake holders were present. The Bill got an overwhelming support of the general public, and all issued raised by ICAN there were all baseless and were all addressed. It is on record that ANAN supported the Bill at the public hearing.
We make bold to say that NO law of Nigeria contain forensic of any kind and even till this very moment. On the other hand APBN could not even give reasons why the Bill should not be passed at the public hearing.Therefore it is unethical for them to start raising alarm on the same Bill when they failed to make their points at the public hearing. After the Bill was transmitted to the House of Representatives for possible concurrence ICAN surfaced again with the same worn out arguments and insisted that Auditor in our name must be removed and replace it with something else which was done before the eventual passage of the Bill. The argument put forward by ICAN was that the word Auditor in CIFIAN name should be removed, and that brought about the new name. Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN). It is therefore misleading and mischievous for APBN to say that CIFIPN Bill did not pass through legislative procedures. The antics of the sponsor of APBN is not strange to Nigerians, because it has acquired a very bad reputation of opposing every new professional body in Nigeria. Example are ANAN, CITN,CIBN,etc.

Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) calling on mr President not to give assent to the Bill, that their member is already doing the same work that CIFIPN Bill is coming to do is unethical. Now if I may ask, who made APBN a regulatory professional body in Nigeria? Which law empowered them to challenge the existence of another professional body? Why are they afraid of competition if at all CIFIPN functions are the same with theirs? Has Nigeria become their personal property that they can determine whose idea should exist or not? Where have they been when Nigeria has been burning with the fire of fraud, corruption and cyber crimes that have ravaged Nigerian economy all these years and dwarfed development? Can they employ all youths that are roaming in the street? Where were they when government Treasury was looted by some private individuals in this country without being prosecuted? Were those fraud not aided and abated by the so called know it all Accountants? Have they ever punished such members or any of their earring members? If not, what is APBN doing about that? Must idea come from them? What makes them think that forensic profession must come from them? Where were they when CIFIPN started training professionals in this country since 2014? What made them think that creation of departments out of selfishness that are not backed by law or covered by their Act are recognised? Do they think everybody is technician professionals in Nigeria like them? What have they done to stop fraud in Nigeria all this years? Nothing, rather they keep causing more harm than good in this country. Why? This kind of injustice must stop without further delay..

We find it rather strange that a body whose primarily purpose ought to be to foster synergy amongst all professional bodies in Nigeria in the interest of the general public has through its current leaders allowed themselves to be ready tools in the hands of unscrupulous groups and individuals who hitherto are hell bent at seeing that Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria does not see the light of the day due to their corrupt practices which they want it to continues without any challenge. Those pushing APBN are enemies of Nigeria, because any child that is born into a family and will not like her mother to give birth to another child is not a good member of that family. Please ask them, why the desperation? Why all these pushing of different groups against this noble profession that should ordinarily be embraced by all that have Nigerians at heart? What do they want? Can APBN point out any professional body under them that is having forensic investigation in their Act? Is APBN saying that there is no need for forensic investigation at all in Nigeria? If not, why has Nigerian government been hiring expatriate forensic experts to Nigeria for forensic fraud investigation all these years, using our scarce foreign exchange for that? Is APBN saying that Nigeria should not have forensic investigation body in this digital age at all? Do the APBN actually have the interest of this country at heart? How can APBN claim ignorance of the existence of forensic profession as a distinct body from accounting profession in other jurisdictions, even the smaller African countries like Zimbabwe, Ghana and South Africa? Do they want Nigerian to remain in a backward position perpetually? Does the APBN has right to challenge law makers on their legislative functions even when they were very transparent? Certainly not, because they cannot claim ignorance of this global best practice.

APBN should mention that particular professional body in Nigeria that its enabling law empowers to carry out forensic investigation and quote the section of such Act to the whole world to prove the genuineness of the noise making. May be we may have to remind APBN that it is an association of professional bodies and not a professional body in itself, therefore we hope that APBN and its leaders would be properly guided and limit itself to its statutory role rather than exhibiting postures that sound no less than an opposition. We wish to remind APBN that it is not a professional body and it will do itself more good if it understands this position and stay clear from CIFIPN Bill.

CONCLUSION:

It is imperative to State that, the Nigerian economy is a broad one with many opportunities for emerging or existing professional bodies to successfully operate without clashes just like the sky where all categories of birds fly without interference with each other. Professionalism in Nigeria should be seen beyond attainment of self-interest ends as observed in recent times. It should be geared towards self improvement in ones field of endeavours as well as drive towards national economic development, growth and sustainability. It may sound as if one is mincing words but, candid to hint that, APBN have failed the citizenry in all fields of human endeavours owing that, their emphasis are only focused on themselves forgetting about the State of the nation.

Notably, APBN have been in existence in Nigeria decades ago under their close watch, business enterprises have gone bankrupted, and liquidated resulting to the being wound – up.

Under their close monitoring and supervision of most investments, investors have suffered huge losses through failed banks which has brought about certain economic problems such as unemployment, strike actions, low demands, etc.

APBN should be ashamed to raise up her voices anywhere to mention CIFIPN knowing fully well the atrocities they have committed in the Nigeria economy with their obsolete standards. Why have they so soon forgotten about their creative accounting styles characterized by fictitious disclosures in the financial statements prepared and audited for clients, the objectives of their external auditors reports (ie the primary and secondary objectives), the internal control principles whose emphasis is directed at the management being charged with the responsibility to detect and prevent fraud by instituting sound internal controls. Why should APBN forget in a hurry that, even when fraud or corrupt practices are detected while carrying out any audit engagement, the evidence gathered to that effect terminates with the auditor in the working papers. The retention of such evidence are never tendered in any court of law for persecution of culprits as against [the object clause of CIFIPN.

For over two decades, the Auditor – Generals audit reports have been sent to the public account committees of both the Federal Government and State Governments without any significant impact against the sanctioned public due to lack of appropriate legislation. The need therefore for an opportunity for the CIFIPN bill to be passed into law and annexed to work in synergy with the Public Accounts Committee for results becomes imperative. This obvious position has been the main reason APBN vowed not to rest foreseeing their predicament, the exposure of their act in the Nigerian economy, the disgrace and shame likely to befall their radical members already drunk with their old wine.
But corruption in Nigeria must come to an end now by suffocating all the breeding avenues known and individuals abatting it. Therefore, I employ President Muhammadu Buhari not to listen to these agents against economic development and growth so obsessed with obsolete professional wisdom.

In rejecting this sustained effort by a particular professional body now hiding under APBN to stop the establishment of CIFIPN in Nigeria, we wish to emphasize from the outset that it is the prerogative of the National Assembly pursuant to section 4(2) of the item 49, part I of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended to establish and grant parliamentary charter to deserving professional disciplines like CIFIPN. Therefore APBN of Nigeria should try and get themselves acquainted with constitution before some group of desperate and parochial minded persons mislead them.

Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria wrote letters to government agencies where Mr President sent the CIFIPN Bill to and told them not to give their consent to the Bill. How did APBN know the ministries where CIFIPN Bill were sent to? Why did they have to do such a thing just to make President to decline assent to the Bill? Why the desperation? The level of corruption in this country calls for a serious concern.

There is no conflict or whatsoever between CIFIPN Bill and existing legislations, because forensic is an emerging trend, it was not there when the so called Act of 1965 was established, and based on the foregoing, We therefore call on the Presidency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the general public to ignore Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) and its leaders as one of the desperate moves of a drowning man who can even ignore the sharpness of the edge of a razor blade in a bid to stay afloat for safety.

Thank you

Dr (Mrs) Enape Victoria Ayishetu, PhD, FCFIA, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM
Pro-tem President, Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN)
The author of a book titled Practical Steps on Forensic Auditing and Fraud Investigation
www.cifian.org

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