By Henry Umoru & Levinus Nwabughiogu
The two arms of the National Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives, yesterday, received the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Bills transmitted by President Muhammadu Buhari for expeditious consideration and passage.
The bills were accompanied with a letter read at the start of plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
President Buhari, in the letter dated April 12, 2022, said the request for the passage of both bills was pursuant to the provisions of Section 58(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He explained that the deficiencies in the country’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism regime (AML/CFT), made it imperative for the passage of both bills.
Buhari warned that the non-passage of both bills posed a risk that might lead to the eventual blacklisting of Nigeria by the Financial Action Task Force, FATF.
The letter read: “Pursuant to Section 58(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), I forward herewith, the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Bill, 2022 and Terrorism (Prevention) Bill, 2022 for the kind consideration of the Senate.
“During the recent Mutual Evaluation carried out by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GABA) there were observed deficiencies in Nigeria’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism regime (AML/CFT).
“Following the evaluation, the Ministry of Justice and other relevant stakeholders reviewed said deficiencies and drafted the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Bill, 2022 and Terrorism (Prevention) Bill, 2022.
“Unless these deficiencies are addressed promptly by the National Assembly, in order to bring our legal regime in conformity with Financial Action Task Force, FATF, recommendations, Nigeria will face the risk of a negative public statement blacklisting the country by FATF and this will lead to some negative consequences to our rapidly growing economy.
“In light of the above, the Federal Ministry of Justice reviewed the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Bill and Terrorism (Prevention) Bill currently pending before the National Assembly and have come up with revised versions of the bills, incorporating the resolutions to the deficiencies pointed out in the Mutual Evaluation Report, thereby bringing Nigeria’s AML/CFT legal regime in conformity with the FATF recommendations.”
Meanwhile, the House has adjourned plenary to April 26, 2022 for Easter celebration.