Despite the clamour for an autonomous Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Nigerian Assembly has transferred the unit from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and domiciled the unit with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The House of Representatives adopted the harmonised report of the conference committee from both chambers of the National Assembly yesterday, while the Senate is expected to do same today.
Chairman of the House Committee on Financial and Economic Crimes, who presented the report to the house during plenary, said the operations of the unit will be autonomous.
The bill seeks to establish the NFIU as the central body responsible for receiving, requesting and analysing financial intelligence report.
Ahead of its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between March 11 and 16, Nigeria is expected to make NFIU independent in order to avoid expulsion.
In the event of an expulsion, Nigeria would no longer benefit from financial intelligence shared by the 153 member countries, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad would be hampered.
Nigeria will also be blacklisted in international finance operations and this could affect the use of credit and debit cards by Nigerians abroad.
However, the bill as passed by the House of Representatives has transferred the NFIU from the EFCC to the CBN.
The bill also provides that the head of the unit should be called a director and that the appointment of the director should be subject to Senate confirmation.
Oladele explained that there were some differences in what the House passed and what the Senate passed, and that a conference committee was thereafter constituted by the National Assembly to reconcile and harmonise the differences of the two versions passed.
“And the conference committee concluded its sitting yesterday; what was passed today was the harmonised version of the bill and I don’t expect my counterpart in the Senate to present a different report,” he said.
“The version passed by the Senate is called the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency bill, while the one passed by the House is Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit and the House version was adopted.”
Another difference is the domicile, he explained. While the House wanted the NFIU to remain with the EFCC, the Senate recommended its transfer to the Central Bank, which was the version adopted.
“The House version states that the head of the agency should be called director, while the Senate version states that the head of the agency should be called director-general; the House version was adopted.
“Then Senate version makes provision for governing council but the House version did not make provision for governing council; the House version was adopted.
“And the issue of confirmation, the Senate version makes provision for confirmation of the director, while the House version did not make that provision, so the Senate was adopted.”