MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA AT THE PUBLIC HEARING, ORGANISED ON THE PROPOSED CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINERS OF NIGERIA BILL, 2021: OUR OBJECTION TO THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL BEING PROMOTED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ACCOUNTANTS OF NIGERIA (ANAN) ON 27TH MAY,2021 IN ROOM 2.31 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE
It is my pleasure to make this presentation at the occasion of this Public Hearing, which has been organized in order to elicit stakeholders’ viewpoints/opinions on the proposed Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria Bill, 2021 promoted by the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), currently before the House of Representatives, for further legislative action. I am delighted by the opportunity provided by this Public Hearing, as it has given us the needed platform to make our presentation/submission in total objection to the passage of the proposed Bill.
Before I proceed, I wish to give brief background information about our organization, which is the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria. The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday 19th May 2021 at the House of Representatives and Tuesday 2nd March 2021 at the Senate made history by passing into law, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill, 2021 (SB.615 and HB. 791), after it was read for the Third Time in both two Chambers (SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE). This act is a clear demonstration of the National Assembly’s patriotism and direct response, targeted at strengthening and re-invigorating national frontiers in the fight against fraud, corruption, and cybercrimes, which has eaten deep into the fabric of our nation. With the passage of this Bill, the 9th Assembly under the distinguished and able leadership of His Excellency, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON and Rt Hon. Femi Gbajabiala has shown clearly, its ardent resolve to carry out its legislative functions in line with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. And this also attests to the fact that the National Assembly is alive to the performance of its complementary role(s) with other arms of Government in the fight against corruption.
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Our Institute has been in existence since 2009. Over the years, we have been able to train professionals in the various fields of forensic science, which include but not limited to the following pragmatic areas: forensic toxicology; forensic investigation; forensic auditing; digital forensics and cybercrimes, forensic autopsy; forensic law; forensic accounting; forensic nursing; forensic pathology; forensic engineering; forensic psychology; forensic DNA analysis; forensic anthropology; forensic linguistics; forensic deontology; forensic dentistry; forensic archeology; forensic graphology, forensic entomology, etc.
Accordingly, in the course of training our prospective members and fellows, the Institute has been to broaden the horizon of professionals in the following areas of investigations, wit: crime scene investigation; global anti-corruption compliance and enforcement; litigation support, forensic investigation capacities, preparation of forensic reports, fraud risk management, corporate fraud analysis, fraud prevention, detection, and investigation, among others.
It is apposite to also state that the journey, which culminated into the passage of this Bill, began in the 8th National Assembly whereby, our Bill was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON, the current President of Senate when he was a Senate Leader, because of its strategic importance to the anti-corruption drive of this administration. For the benefit of hindsight, when our Bill was introduced in the two Chambers during the 8th National Assembly, all-inclusive public hearings were conducted by the relevant committees of the respective Chambers. Thereafter and in spite of opposition from stakeholders who were in the minority, led by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), the National Assembly passed the Bill, in view of its significance and the part it will play in the fight against corruption.
Accordingly, the Bill was sent to Mr President for Assent, which was not granted before the Dissolution of the 8th National Assembly in June 2019. On this note, it is important for us to make certain clarifications on the insinuations being sponsored by our distractors that our Bill was rejected by Mr President in the 8th Assembly. To set the records straight, our Bill was NEVER REJECTED. The records are there for everyone to check because if a Bill is rejected by Mr President, the usual practice is the Mr President, will, through EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATION, write to the National Assembly, where the reasons for withholding Assent to any Bill will be clearly stated. But, this was not the case, as far as the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill is concerned.
Being conscious of this fact and in view of the laudable objectives of the Bill, it was re-introduced in this present 9th National Assembly, and Distinguished Senator Abdullahi A. Yahaya, the current Leader of the Senate, graciously sponsored our Bill in the Senate, while Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta, sponsored it in the House of Representatives. Thereafter, the Bill was subjected to painstaking legislative processes and on Tuesday 2nd March 2021, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, passed the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill, 2021 into law, after it was read for the Third Time. And due to the Bi-Cameral nature of our Legislature, the House of Representatives passed the Bill on Wednesday 19th May 2021. The accelerated responses given to our Bill by the two chambers of the National Assembly attest to the fact that the legislative intents and purports of our Bill, are of strategic importance to the fight against corruption and would boost all national efforts, targeted at eradicating corruption, which has eaten deep into the fabric of our nation.
However, like the thunderbolt that shook the ivory tower, we were taken aback, when we heard that a Bill that seeks to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria, sponsored by Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub was introduced at the Floor of the House of Representatives, immediately after the passage of our Bill by the Senate on March 2nd, 2021, and by the House of Representatives on Wednesday 19th May 2021. On hearing this, we became curious and our curiosity led us to critically look at the provisions of the newly introduced Bill, alongside ours, which has already been passed by the National Assembly. Consequently, we discovered that the provisions of the new Bill, merely duplicate the provisions of our Bill.
In view of the above, we immediately sent a letter of objection against the Bill to the House of Representative, because our Bill (CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA 2021) has already been passed by the Senate then and was in the committee of the whole at the House of Representatives as at the time CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINERS OF NIGERIA Bill was introduced.
It is instructive to note that during the debate on the general principles of this proposed Bill at the Floor of the House, the Hon. Members that spoke in favour of the Bill, misunderstood and misconstrued it to be our Bill because they were making references to when the Bill was passed by the two Chambers in the 8th National Assembly. Some of them in their submissions stated that the proposed Bill has been passed by the Senate. For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Chairman, Hon. Members, the one and only Bill on Forensic, which was passed by the 8th National Assembly was our Bill, and not this one before us today. This misconception arose due to the similarities of the nomenclature of the Institutes and their functions, as espoused in the provisions of the two Bills, hence the need for the National Assembly to do what is right to save Nigerians from this apparent confusion and unnecessary contradiction. Come to think of it, how can we pass a Bill to regulate the practice of forensic science today and tomorrow, we are passing another Bill that also seeks to regulate the practice of forensic science in Nigeria? This is an anomaly that must be corrected, through total rejection of this newly proposed Bill.
On this note, I wish to crave your indulgence, to kindly permit me to highlight our concerted and well-reasoned points of objection to the passage of the proposed Bill, which is under consideration today:
- That the provisions of the Bill are unnecessary duplications of the provisions of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill, 2021, which has already been passed by the National Assembly and it is at the final stage of being sent to Mr President for Presidential Assent;
- That having two chartered institutes of FORENSICs to regulate the practice of forensic science in the country at the same time would lead to role conflict and clash of interest. This will not augur well in the overall interest of this country;
- That the passage of the proposed Bill is tantamount to abuse of legislative process, practice, and procedure, having hitherto passed a Bill on the same such matter, which the proposed Bill is seeking to enact;
- That the United States of America (U.S.A.), which has legislation similar to the proposed Bill, does not have the word “forensic” in the title of their law. What they have is called “The ASSOCIATION OF CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINERS, which is quite specific and straightforward in that sense;
- That the passage of this Bill will make a mockery of the entire legislative process before Nigerians and the international communities. The onus now lies on the National Assembly to do the needful;
- That it is rather confusing for an Institute to refer to itself as a chartered institute and at the same time, a certified fraud examiner, by standard practice, it is either you are a chartered institute or you are a certified, fraud examiner. You can never combine the two.
From the foregoing, it is apparent that the passage of this bill will do more harm than good. In fact, it is our perception that what is going on here is a calculated attempt by our distractors who failed woefully in their opposition to the passage of our Bill but are determined to pass through the back door in order to hijack the process, having failed to achieve their parochial and self-serving interests. As an Institute, we cannot afford to sit-idly-by and watch these deliberate attempts to frustrate our resolute efforts towards securing the long-awaited legislative/institutional framework for our Institute.
In conclusion, I wish to commend the House of Representatives for subjecting this Bill to this Public Hearing, otherwise, stakeholders wouldn’t have been given this opportunity to come and air their views. Finally, I wish to use this opportunity, once again, to thank the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and indeed, the House of Representatives and their respective leaderships for the successful passage of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill, 2021. Indeed, posterity will remember you all for this noble feat and we believe that together, Nigeria will surmount all the problems it is currently confronted with.
Dr. Mrs. Enape Victoria Ayishetu, Ph.D, FCFIA, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM, Pro-tem President