Senate joins Rep to pass NFIU bill

Reps pass bill seeking to make NFIU autonomous

Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi submitted the conference committee's report to the Senate yesterday. The group reportedly threatened to expel Nigeria permanently by March 11 this year, if NFIU is not granted independence.

The Senate and House of Representatives had differed over the passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency, NFIA Bill establishing the NFIU as an independent entity.

"Hence, today's passage of the Conference Committee Report of the Bill is aimed at ensuring that we comply with global best practices, so that we will be able to access the financial intelligence data of the EGMONT Group".

Before now, it was gathered that Egmont suspended NFIU because EFCC, was allegedly leaking sensitive information to the media.

The clash between the Senate and House of Representatives on the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIU) bill has been resolved.

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

In the event of an expulsion, Nigeria would no longer benefit from financial intelligence shared by the 153 member countries, while the country's ability to recover stolen funds overseas will be hampered.

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The lawmakers adopted the harmonised report of the conference committee from both chambers of the national assembly on Tuesday.

The confirmation followed the consideration of the report of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters during plenary.

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.

If assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, the NFIU, which hitherto was under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will now be domiciled as a unit under the Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

"I want to thank the members of the committees in the fight against corruption because our suspension from the EGMONT group has a lot of ramifications".

Nigeria risked being expelled by the Egmont Group if the bill wasn't passed earlier.

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