Senate joins Rep to pass NFIU bill

Senate joins Rep to pass NFIU bill

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill will on Tuesday (today) be laid before the two chambers of the National Assembly, The Eagle Online is reporting.

By that action and a similar adoption by the Senate, the NFIU bill stood passed.

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki expressed concern that Nigeria's suspension from the EGMONT Group had some consequences.

Ahead of its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between March 11 and March 16, Nigeria is expected to make NFIU independent in order to avoid expulsion.

The group of 153 countries which shares intelligence on illicit financial transactions, drug trade and terrorism financing had suspended Nigeria's membership since July a year ago after Nigeria failed to have an NFIU that is autonomous both in operations and in funding.

This followed the consideration of clauses of the harmonised report by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption.

Until now, the agency has operated under Nigeria's state Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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The group reportedly demanded autonomy for the NFIU as a condition for the suspension to be lifted.

He said "being a conference report I do not think we need any further debate knowing the importance of the NFIU to the economy and the well-being of Nigeria and its relationship with the global financial intelligence committee".

NFIU is a central body responsible for receiving, requesting, analyzing and disseminating financial intelligence report and other information to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and other relevant authorities.

"And the conference committee concluded its sitting yesterday; what was passed today was the harmonised version of the bill and I don't expect my counterpart in the Senate to present a different report", he said.

The House position which was jettisoned by the conference was that the NFIU should continue to be domiciled in EFCC.

In the report adopted by the House yesterday, the NFIU is now domiciled at the CBN and the unit is to be headed by a director.

The Egmont Group had insisted that failure to make it legally independent would have led to financial transactions from Nigeria including funds transfer and credit cards would have been subject to special controls, banking sources said.

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