The Nigerian Senate has resolved to pass a law that would make the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, independent of the anti-graft agency, EFCC.
On Wednesday, the lawmakers based their decision on the reported suspension of the NFIU from the Egmont Group.
The NFIU, an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was reportedly suspended from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units over Nigeria’s failure to provide legal framework that will make the NFIU autonomous, The Cable reported last week.
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.
Critics of separating the NFIU from the EFCC have said it would weaken the anti-graft agency which has tackling financial crimes as one of its main task.
But Chukwuta Utazi, PDP-Enugu, who moved the motion on “dire consequences” of the suspension condemned critics of the separation, mentioning specially Itse Sagay, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption; and Femi Falana, a senior lawyer and activist.
He noted Nigeria has until December to make NFIU autonomous and institutionally independent in order to escape expulsion from the Egmont Group in January.
Mr. Utazi, chairman of the committee on anti-corruption and financial crimes, therefore, called for a new law to empower NFIU to be independent and be able to be responsible for its personnel.
Following the motion, the Senate further resolved that the ministries of finance, justice and interior should ensure Nigeria regains membership of the 153-member group and that the government should include in its supplementary budget, separate funds for the NFIU.
Then, the Senate also tasked its anti-corruption committee to come up, within four weeks, with an establishment bill towards the end of making the NFIU independent in fulfilment of the requirements of the Egmont Group.
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