Nigerian lawmakers okay bill on independence of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit
This move is to prevent total expulsion of Nigeria from the EGMONT Group.
Before now, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit is a department of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and this is against the terms of the EGMONT Group. As a result, the NFIU was suspended from the group with a condition that the suspension would be lifted if the NFIU is made an independent body.
With the passage of this bill at the plenary of the lower chamber on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, the Senate is excepted to consider the bill for passage on Wednesday, March 7. After which, it will be transmitted to the President for Assent.
The EGMONT Group and the Nigerian problem
The EGMONT Group is a body of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) of 155 countries. The body provides a platform for the exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing among members.
In July 2017, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) was suspended for leaking sensitive information to the public. Also, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was accused of using confidential intelligence at the disposal of the country’s FIU to blackmail certain politically exposed individuals.
“The Heads of FIU made a decision, by consensus, to suspend the membership status of the NFIU, Nigeria, following repeated failures on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information. This specifically relates to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges...," the group said in a statement
It is expected that this action by the government would make the EGMONT Group consider lifting the suspension of the unit.
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