The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has said the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Chief Justice of the Federation, Tanko Muhammad, and other top public office holders are not under any form of investigation by its operatives.
The agency said a letter that surfaced on the internet weekend, showing how the agency had asked all banks to submit the bank account numbers of National Assembly leaders, was “leaked.”
The agency had earlier disowned the letter, saying it did not have to ask banks for those details as it already had them.
In the first press statement on Friday, the bank had denied that it requested banks to furnish it with the account details of principal officers of the National Assembly and the Judiciary.
It said the official who signed the letter “was obviously unacquainted with the fact that the NFIU already had access to such information through its database.”
“Having been aware that the leaked letter was not subjected to the appropriate level of authorisation before transmission, the NFIU has commenced investigation to unravel the persons and the factors that led to the inadvertent circumvention of our internal process in this isolated case with a view to applying appropriate sanctions as deterrence,” the agency said on Monday.
The press statement issued by Ahmed Dikko, its Chief Media Analyst is reproduced below.
“We have noticed that while some individuals who seem to be favourable to Government are creating the wrong impression that the opposition is using the NFIU, those in the Opposition seem to be speaking through some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and insinuating that Government is using the NFIU to its political advantage. Both positions are not only untrue but patently unimaginable.
“It has become necessary to restate that the officer who initiated the request was obviously unacquainted with the fact that the NFIU already had access to such information through its data base.
“It is also pertinent to note that the NFIU has the major responsibility, in accordance with global standards, to maintain and regularly update the list of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).
“It will be recalled that a new government was inaugurated in May 2019. The officer who initiated the unauthorised letter was also taking the initiative to update the PEPs list. This list includes politicians and political appointees in all organs of government.
“The update exercise which is a regular practice in order to protect public funds and other assets is also in accordance with global best practice.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Their Excellencies, The Senate President, The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chief Justice of the Federation, as well as Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Justices and other members of the Judiciary are NOT under investigation by the NFIU.
“We appeal to members of the public that it is needless to make political capital out of this as the entire country is just a co-signatory with other 164 members of the FIU processes.
“Having been aware that the leaked letter was not subjected to the appropriate level of authorisation before transmission, the NFIU has commenced investigation to unravel the persons and the factors that led to the inadvertent circumvention of our internal process in this isolated case with a view to applying appropriate sanctions as deterrence.”