While Senate seeks total independence for NFIU, Magu moves to reposition unit

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, is currently a department under the EFCC.

Mr. Magu and the Senate have been at loggerheads since the lawmakers twice refused to confirm his appointment as substantive chairman of the agency. The lawmakers have also said they would refuse to attend to any other nomination from the presidency unless Mr. Magu is removed.

On Wednesday, the committee set up by Mr. Magu had members drawn from law enforcement, financial and regulatory agencies and is chaired by Abdullahi Shehu, a former Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA.

A statement issued by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said other members of the committee are Chidi Chukwuka from the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC; Bamanga Bello, Head of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, SCUML; Jamila Yusuf of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Udofia Akpan Obot, a former deputy director, CBN; while Joke Liman of the EFCC is to serve as secretary.

The Nigerian Senate had earlier on Wednesday resolved to pass a law that would make the NFIU, independent of the anti-graft agency.

On Wednesday, the lawmakers based their decision on the suspension of the NFIU from the Egmont Group, a suspension confirmed by the EFCC chairman.

The NFIU, was suspended from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units reportedly over Nigeria’s failure to provide a legal framework that will make the NFIU autonomous.

 

The NFIU helps tackle money laundering and monitor financial flows, task eased by its membership of the Egmont Group whose members share intelligence relating to international finance and illicit flow.

Speaking at the inauguration of the committee, Mr. Magu charged the members to take a holistic look at the mandate and operations of the NFIU with a view to coming up with proposals to reposition the agency for greater efficiency.

He reminded them that membership of the Egmont Group was critical to Nigeria’s effort to tackle money laundering and monitoring of financial flows within and outside the country.

He charged the committee to among others, address the concern of the Egmont Group, by providing the necessary frameworks needed “to coordinate the effective process of amendment of section 1(2)(c) of the EFCC Act to expressly reflect NFIU as an autonomous unit under EFCC so as to provide legal basis or clarity on its operational independence from the EFCC.

It is also to: “Make recommendations with respect to the funding of the NFIU’s operations, develop a career path for the staff of the NFIU, develop protocol for the protection of information and confidentiality, specifically as regards the status of STR information and information deriving from international exchange, and also develop procedure for the processing of information held by the NFIU either deriving from STR or from international exchange for legitimate purposes.”

Responding on behalf of the members of the committee, Mr. Shehu expressed delight at the opportunity given to them to serve the country.

“We see this as a call to service and we assure you that we will ensure that we carry out this task judiciously in order to reposition the NFIU, and ensure that it is autonomous as this will further strengthen the anti-corruption fight”, he said.

In his reaction to Mr. Magu’s reform effort, an anti-corruption activist, Olanrewaju, Suraju, supported the proposal by the EFCC in respect of the NFIU when he spoke with reprterson the development.

“The separation is not necessarily to create another agency or institution,” said Mr. Olanrewaju. “Its about granting some operational autonomy to the NFIU. They will still operate the same way.”

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