By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—The Nigerian Law Reform Commission, NLRC; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, and Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, yesterday, disagreed over directive by Egmont Group that the Federal Government removed Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, from the EFCC.
While the NLRC argued that the NFIU should be made independent of the EFCC to stop Nigeria’s expulsion from the Egmont Group, EFCC and NGF contended that it was better to allow it remain within the anti-graft agency so as not to expose it to danger.
Speaking at a one-day public hearing by House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes on an Act to amend the EFCC (Establishment ACT 2017, a commissioner in NLRC, Prof. Jumai Audi, said: “NFIU should be an independent and autonomous body separate from EFCC.
“The Nigerian Law Reform Commission applauds the initiative but recommends the establishment of NFIU as an independent and autonomous body separate from EFCC rather than as a unit domiciled in EFCC as proposed in the bills.
“Nigeria was suspended from the Egmont Group for lack of autonomy in the real sense of the NFIU and this position has not been addressed.
“The Egmont Group requires that the NFIU be independent and autonomous to guarantee its effectiveness in countering terrorist financing, money laundering and fighting corruption.
“Also, the office of the chairman of the board of EFCC should be separated from the office of the chairman of the commission as this will enhance transparency in its activities.”
It‘ll expose it to danger —EFCC
But Secretary of EFCC, Mr Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, in his presentation, countered the position of NLRC, contending that giving NFIU an autonomy outside EFCC would endanger it.
He said: “NFIU needs a protective shield from politicians, if you leave it to survive alone, it will be endangered and exposed to danger.
“In the entire universe, only three tiny countries have autonomous FIUs and what Egmont Group wants is for it to have autonomy within the EFCC.”
Retaining it in EFCC better— NGF
Speaking in the same vein, Director-General of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Ashishana Okauro, said: “As a foundation member of EFCC, I know what the Egmont Group wants and it is autonomy within the EFCC.
“It’s baffling that 10 years after we were registered by Egmont Group, we’ve been suspended and we stand to lose more if we are finally expelled from the group.”
We’ll set up a c’ttee —AGF
In his remarks, representative from the Office of Attorney-General of the Federation, Anthony Abba, simply told the lawmakers that a committee to harmonise the various positions of the stakeholders would be set up by the Attorney-General.
Despite laws, corruption remains unabated —Dogara
Earlier, while declaring the public hearing open, House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by Deputy Whip, Pally Iriase, said no country would develop with the high level of corruption in Nigeria.
He said: “Despite various government efforts to enact laws to curb corruption, it is fast threatening our culture in Nigeria but once these laws are passed, it will clear some of these internal and external challenges.”