08 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The National Assembly has passed the bill seeking to make the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) autonomous.
The Senate passed the bill after considering a conference committee report presented by Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Committee, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, on Wednesday.
The conference committee report was passed in the lower legislative chamber on Tuesday. A harmonised version of the bill will be forwarded to the president for assent.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki urged the executive to quickly assent to the bill and ensure the independence of the unit
“I will like to thank the members of this Senate for taking here again in the fight against corruption because our suspension from the Egmont Group has a lot of ramifications.
“I hope that by this conference report, they (Egmont) will have a second view and readmit us. I hope that the executive will quickly assent and ensure the independence of the unit,” Saraki said.
The Egmont Group is a network of 152-member countries that share information relating to criminal intelligence and financial information.
In July 2017, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit was reportedly suspended from the Egmont Group, over what it termed unnecessary interference by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC), wherein the Unit was hosted.
The group said if Nigeria failed to provide a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU, the country would be expelled from the global body when it holds its next meeting in Argentina from March 11.
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 will be hampered.
Nigeria will also be blacklisted in international finance and this could affect the use of credit and debit cards by Nigerians abroad.