Magu, NFIU director tackle Senate over moves to create independent agency

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday insisted that the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, was independent of its control.

The Acting Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, said at an interactive session with editors on Wednesday in Abuja, that ongoing efforts to create a “stand-alone’’ NFIU was needless.

It would be recalled that the NFIU, which is domiciled in the EFCC, was recently suspended by the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units reportedly for allegedly not being independent.

Egmont Group is a global financial intelligence gathering body made up of 156 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) representing 156 countries.

It is a platform for members to share expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The group reportedly demanded autonomy for the NFIU as a condition for the suspension to be lifted, failing which Nigeria would be expelled in January, 2018.

Following the suspension, the Senate moved to establish the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency through a bill, which passed second reading in July.

Mr. Magu said, “I am not opposed to the autonomy of the NFIU; in fact, the NFIU has always been operationally autonomous.

“I understand the workings of Financial Intelligence Units around the world and they are domiciled in law enforcement agencies based on their credibility.

“This is another way of corruption fighting back; people are fighting and pretending to be in support of what is ongoing, but they are not giving a face to the fight against corruption.’’

Shedding more light on this, the Director of the NFIU, Francis Usani, said the Egmont Group was simply asking for amendment of Section 1(2)(c) of the EFCC Act.

Mr. Usani said the group was not demanding the creation of a separate NFIU as being portrayed in some quarters.

“The section says that the EFCC is a designated FIU, but the group is saying the provision is not clear to them.

“What the group is saying is that we should create the NFIU as a unit under the EFCC by amending that provision of the EFCCT Act. It is as simple as that.

“But it is unfortunate that the perception generally is tending towards abusing what the Egmont Group is asking us to do.

“As the chairman has said, there is a very high level of operational autonomy in the NFIU.

“When we talk about operational autonomy, it is different from administrative autonomy.

“The NFIU has three core responsibilities which are to receive information, analyse the information and disseminate it to law enforcement agencies.”

Mr. Usani said other law enforcement agencies make request for information directly to the NFIU without the knowledge of the EFCC chairman.

He explained that the chairman had no knowledge of information given by the NFIU to agencies like the ICPC, DSS, among others.

“The NFIU signs MoUs without the EFCC chairman’s consent, I attend meetings within and outside the country which the chairman doesn’t know about.

“There are a lot of other things we do at the NFIU without his knowledge. The chairman doesn’t ask me who is making request to us or to who we are making request to.

“Even my international engagements he doesn’t know about.

“All these give credence to its operational autonomy. But these issues are being politicised and that is what pains me the most,” he added.

The director warned that a stand-alone NFIU was against the principles and protocols of the Egmont Group and would earned the country total expulsion.

(NAN)


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  • Patrick Otobo

    EFCC position and that of the Director of NFIU can not withstand any objective scrutiny. NFIU is currently domiciled in the EFCC without any autonomy and the staff there are at the mercy of Magu who deploys them to suit his whims and narrow interest. It is NFIU and not EFCC that has the mandate to seek and receive financial intelligence from other FIUs round the world to be shared to other security and law enforcement agencies and financial regulatory authorities to fight among others money laundering and terrorism financing. These other agencies are suppose to approach and seek these information directly from an independent NFIU and not one that is a appendage of EFCC. This is line with global best practice.

    The following countries have their FIUs and anti-grate agencies as independent agencies; India, Japan, USA, United Kingdom, France Even neighboring Ghana!!!

    • share Idea

      Aptly stated. It is because of the level media trial ongoing under this administration that made the global body to demand NFIU autonomy.

      Sensitive information that requires further investigation by appropriate government agencies are leaked to the media without further investigation. Hence, making other global body members to suspend Nigeria.

  • Abdul

    Why is it so hard to do the right thing in Nigeria, Egmont group demand that NFIU should be an independent body and Magu is twisting the whole thing to suit his ego. Since NFIU shares informations with other law enforcement agencies, why then must it remain within the EFCC to function. Amending EFCC Act is to make NFIU independent will not guarranty it autonomy.

    • share Idea

      My gee, pls never join issue with this administration operators that keep thinking that everyone can be deceived. A request from foreign body is now been viewed by Magu as corruption fighting back.

      EFCC is not a ministry that can have several independent agencies – Magu should stop lying to the gullible masses

  • FreeNigeria

    Usani abi wetin be your name, if Mumu Magu doesn’t know what you do and where you go, why is it paining you to be an independent agency? tell us the truth

    • Ajayi Ifayemi

      Because they will be expelled. He said it, just read again. I think that should pain you too.

  • thusspokez

    “Even my international engagements he doesn’t know about.

    The legislators might be doing this out of spite for the EFCC and may even think, as a way to weaken it. But in the end, an independent NFIU will come to bite them hard where it hurts most.

    Whatever the legislators’ intentions are, I welcome it. The EFCC organisation structure is bloated and therefore needs to be restructured — to use the fashionable word. Take a look at the following list of EFCC Board Members:

    [Bloated] EFCC Board Members

    The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
    A representative each of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Justice.
    The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
    Director General, National Intelligence Agency.
    Director General, Department of State Security Services.
    Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission.
    Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission.
    Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    Commissioner for Insurance.
    Postmaster General of the Nigerian Postal Services.
    The Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission.
    Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Services.
    Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Services.
    Inspector General of Police.
    Four eminent Nigerians with cognate experience in any of the following, that is finance, banking or accounting; and
    The Secretary to the Commission.

    For effing sake, why are all these other organisations seating on the board of a law enforcement agency? It is a recipe for corruption.

    For example, with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as member of the EFCC board, is there any wonder that the Governor and the Central Bank of Nigeria itself enjoy the EFCC ‘Untouchable Status’? What action had the EFCC taken following the widespread reports of high level corruption activities and practices at the CBN?

    So yes, the NFIU should be completely independent of the EFCC, and it should not have the EFCC (or any head of any other organisation) as member of its board.

    • Senator D

      Very constructive argument dear… Very impressive… You are right, why should CBN, who gets influenced easily by the powers that be, also be a board member? Nigeria, for once stop sentiments and allow for genuine independence of all agencies from INEC, NJC, PSC, EFCC, NFIU and so on…

  • Okokondem

    If we assume that both the Chairman of the EFCC and the Director of NFIU know a little more about the Egmont Group statute or guidelines governing the NFIU, then there’s no need for a NFIU independent of the EFCC as some seem to be advocating. Both the Chairman and the Director appear to be in agreement in this regard.

    Let’s not forget the following remark in the report attributed to the Director of the NFIU which suggests that extricating the NFIU unit from the EFCC might even lead to its expulsion from the global body, Egmont Group.

    “The director warned that a stand-alone NFIU was against the principles and protocols of the Egmont Group and would earned the country total expulsion.”

    At the end of the day NFIU wants to be in compliance with the guidelines of the global FIU body, right? Again, you have to wonder why anyone would be in favor of separating the two in a blatant contravention of the Egmont Group guidelines.

  • Okokondem

    According to a Premium Times article earlier today on power generation:

    “Nigeria started talking about it 
    since 1972; that is about 45 years ago. Several efforts had been made to bring it to reality but I’m happy to announce that this government approved the contract today to joint ventures of Chinese Civil and Engineering company for the engineering and turn-key contract, including civil and electro-mechanical works for $5.792 billion.”

    What Nigerians need to know is whether the efforts that started in 1972 did in the past involved similar or otherwise TURN-KEY contracts during successive Nigerian governments over the years, and if so, what happened to the funds allocated to such contacts.

    We already know such contacts produced no results if after 45 years the country of 180 million population is still unable to produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity. I’m certain this is not the first time the government has dangled a similar electricity project, and since we still don’t have electricity that we can be proud of, what happened to the budget allocations over these years? I’m no expert in this field but $5.7 billion dollars seems like an awful lot of money for just 3,000 megawatts of electricity.

    For perspective I did a Google search for the following information:

    1. SOUTH AFRICA 
    Power Generation: 37,745 MW
    Population: 55.91m (2016)

    2. EGYPT 
    Power Generation: 24,700 MW
    Population: 95.69m (2016)

    3. BRAZIL 
    Power Generation: Has 137 GW 
    of installed capacity. 
    1 GW = 1000 MW of electricity. 
    Population: 201 million (2016)

    4. GHANA
    Power Generation: 4490 MW
    Population: 28.21m (2016)

    5. ETHIOPIA 
    Power Generation: 4267 MW
    Population: 102 million

    6. NIGERIA 
    Power Generation: 2662 MW 
    according to a Premium Times 
    report of January 22, 2017.
    Population: 186 million (2016)

    Looking at these statistics, and the fact that Nigeria is about to commit nearly $6 billion for a mare 3,000 MW that still leaves her far behind in terms of the ratio of power output to population, calls for demand for investigations into every budget appropriations for electricity during the 45 year period starting from 1972.

  • emmanuel

    “This is another way of corruption fighting back; people are fighting and pretending to be in support of what is ongoing, but they are not giving a face to the fight against corruption.’’
    This is hate speech from Magu

    • Senator D

      Very derogatory…The same Senate he wants to confirm him as EFCC chairman. Secondly, what is wrong with autonomy? We all know that irrespective of the good intention of the EFCC chairman as long as the NFIU is under him there is bound to be some level of interference and influence… This is known anywhere in the world.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Nigerian senate, can not constitutionally create another anti-corruption agency to focus exclusively on financial crimes as EFCC, is performing wonderfully under its chairman,Ibrahim Magu. The senate move will failed woefully on senate president Dr BUkola Saraki,s face.Dr Bukola Saraki, himself is an indicted corrupt-ridden element along with his other senate colleagues that came up with this idea without president Muhammadu Buhari,s consent or approval.Quite another way of the corruptible elements fighting back against the active Ibrahim Magu,s led EFCC which have been recording several successes in fighting endemic corruption culture.Every sane Nigerian, understanding the Bukola Saraki,s logic which will not succeed but record outright failure.

  • Senator D

    What is wrong with autonomy? We all know that irrespective of the good intention of the EFCC chairman as long as the NFIU is under him there is bound to be some level of interference and influence… This is known anywhere in the world. Must Magu become so blind for power that he doesn’t know that laws are made to guide the generality of Nigerians NOT for him specifically. Magu can’t be EFCC chairman forever thus he shouldn’t bother himself about the independence of the NFIU. Infact, every anti-graft agency and sister agencies MUST be independent of any kind of influence directly or indirectly…

    • Okokondem

      “What is wrong with autonomy?”

      Did you simply miss what this report is about? What NFIU needs according to FIU global body, Egmont Group, a little tweeting to conform with their guidelines, and not total independence from the local law enforcement agency such as EFCC.

      It’s up to the EFCC, and Nigeria to comply with Egmont’s guidelines and remain a member of the global group, or flout their guidelines and be expelled from the group. The fact that some of you seem to be questioning the relevance of Egmont’s guidelines for a country to be a member of the group goes to Nigerian’s predisposition to disobeying the law. You don’t like the EFCC so all rules go out the window. This mentality is exactly why the country is in this predicament. Nigerians don’t believe the law applies to them.

      Let me see if I can encapsulate this report one more time for you. Think about it, the director of Nigeria’s NFIU stands to gain as an independent unit because he would likely get a budget appropriations directly without having to answer to the EFCC, but guess what, he is against an independence as that might get the unit expelled from the global body.

  • Senator D

    “This is another way of corruption fighting back; people are fighting and pretending to be in support of what is ongoing, but they are not giving a face to the fight against corruption.’’… Magu you MUST be a nincompoop to use such words for a request made by the Egmont Group… This how APC twists everything to either PDP fighting back or corruption fighting back or wailing wailers fighting back… I’m just tired of this APC people thinking that everything is after or against them… Very mumucious people…

    • Manmbombano123

      The mumu is on you

  • JasV

    We know very well that in many other countries in the world, this FIU is headed by Deputy Directors and even based in other government agencies and still autonomous. In any case what is difficult in the Senate/EFCC and the relevant arm of the Federal Government to organize a seminar and invite this egregious Egmont group to come and tell us exactly what they mean or want? Why can they not clearly put their thoughts on paper? Why must we be the ones killing ourselves to interpret what they want. These senators can not even interpret and obey the laws they themselves created not to talk of the ones created by their almighty Egmont. YEYE DEY SMELL