The Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Moddibo Tukur, has requested salaries of operatives of the agency to be captured as a sub-head under the budget of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He made the request on Tuesday during the agency’s defence session with the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.
He said since NFIU is now domiciled in CBN` as an autonomous agency, its salary structure and conditions of service should reflect that of the CBN.
Mr Tukur also noted that while the total budget projected for Nigeria in 2020 fiscal year is N10.33 trillion, that of CBN is well above a trillion Naira – translating into 10 per cent of the country’s total expenditure projection.
Request made to that effect by NFIU to President Muhammadu Buhari was honoured by him but not fully, he said.
“When we were with the EFCC, as an intelligence unit, condition of salary and service applicable to operatives of the commission, were fully extended to us.
“When we were moved to CBN as stipulated by the Act, we expected the same operational and management procedure to follow fully, which is not the case presently. We firmly believe that this can be done by the apex bank by just capturing our personnel costs as a subhead under their expenditure profile on a yearly basis,” he said.
The NFIU boss also explained that operatives of the agency needed to be well-remunerated to avoid being consumed by temptations that come their ways on a daily basis as regards millions of US dollars being tracked from being fraudulently smuggled into Nigeria’s financial system.
“This morning alone, NFIU tracked and reversed $1.5 million of such fraudulent transactions. Some of the banks are in problem, finding all means of getting out of it.
“A lot of money is being taken out of the Energy Sector within the radius of billions of dollars but we are living up to the task of tracking and frustrating the financial fraud in line with our primary responsibility of assets tracing and tracking,” he said .
He also said out of the N1.1 billion capital budgetary votes appropriated for the agency in 2019, only N400 million has just been promised to be released to it this week, “which translates into zero per cent implementation for now.”
While appealing to the Committee to help push for approval of the agency’s 2020 capital budget component of N4.2 billion, he explained the need for the agency to finance the construction of its office in the Villa at the approved cost of N3.5billion and give to the Supreme Court, N500 million as cost incurred from its building being used as temporary office .
“The office site is in the Villa and the contractor is Julius Berger, everything has already been approved at the executive level, requiring appropriation from the National Assembly.”
The Senate spokesperson and member of the committee, Adedayo Adeyeye, however, described the capital budget projection of the agency for 2020 as too ambitious, having not been adequately funded in 2019.
He advised the agency to think outside the budgetary provisions in raising money through grants from international donors.
“N4.2 billion as capital budget proposal for 2020 is too ambitious. Find ways by which you can meet some of your capital commitment outside the budget,” he said.
The chairman of the committee, Suleiman Kwari, assured the agency of required assistance in getting its salary structure to align with that of the CBN and approval for the projected N4.2 billion 2020 capital budget proposal.
The NFIU was until 2018, merged with the EFCC. It became an independent body in 2018 following the passage of its enabling Act by the National Assembly.