BY SOLOMON AYADO and AHURAKA ISAH,
Exactly a week after the Senate accused the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu of meddling into the affairs of the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which propelled Nigeria’s suspension from EGMONT Group, the lawmakers has passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill.
The Bill, which was only read for the first time on Thursday, July 20, accelerated and passed second reading immediately and passed yesterday.
By this passage, it has become clearer that Nigeria may be saved from the plan of being expelled from the EGMONT Group, a network of international Financial Intelligence Units with 154 member countries.
At the moment, because of domiciliary of the NFIU and lack of autonomy, EGMONT Group had threatened to expel Nigeria permanently by January 2018 if the Nigerian government failed to grant the unit the independence.
Yesterday, the Bill was okayed and there was no public hearing before the passage, which means that when the President gives assent, the agency will act as an independent central body responsible for requesting, receiving, analyzing and disseminating financial intelligence.
Also, with the passage of the Bill, the NFIA will now be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and also report to the National Assembly.
Leading the debate, sponsor of the bill and Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senenator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) had argued that the proposal would make the Unit, which is currently domiciled under the EFCC an autonomous and independent body.
He said that the unit was the backbone of the EFCC but had to be made autonomous as pre-requisite of being a full member of the EGMONT Group.