OrderPaperToday – In light of the recent rejection of several bills and the controversial nature of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) bill, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Anti Corruption, Kayode Oladele (APC, Ogun), has doused any fear about the President not signing the bill.
Mr. Oladele told OrderPaperNG specifically that the fate which befell the Peace Corps bill will not be the lot of the NFIU bill, noting that the harmonization with the Senate was done in line with international best practices.
One of the major controversy is the issue of name, as most contributors during the debate argued that designating the NFIU as a “unit” and requiring the President to nominate the head, subject to approval of the senate, contravenes the civil service rule.
In response to this, Oladele said: “The President will not reject the bill based on nomenclature; whether it is called ‘unit’ or not. This unit has been in operation for the past 10 years in Nigeria, so it is not as if we are creating a new agency of government, we are just giving it legal status. It would be recalled that the unit came into operation in 2007 and it has been operating very well.
“The position of the House is in tandem with international best practices; that is why the name of the group is, Egmont International group of Financial Intelligence Units, not Egmont group of financial Intelligence agencies. Most of the recommendations were accepted base on international best practices, although some were accepted based on convenience.
“It is in that same light that the Senate agreed with the name unit, I don’t see the president saying it will not agree or decline to sign.”
He noted that the main issue with NFIU that prompted the National Assembly to give legal backing to it, is to meet with conditions of Egmont group, such as; the deletion of section 12(c) and section 6(L) of EFCC act.
He stated that “the problem we have is that the Egmont group raised an objection to the EFCC act, section 12 subsection (c) states that, ‘the EFCC shall be the designated Financial Intelligence Unit of the Federation’.
“The group also raised objection to section 6 (L) of the EFCC act that says that EFCC shall receive, analyze and disseminate suspicious transaction report, all of which are core functions of the NFIU.
“The issue has always been, delete these two sections and create a unit within the EFCC to be known as NFIU, the issue of Agency did not arise as at that time, the issue has always been about the creation of this unit. The current arrangement creates a fusion.”
He blamed the difficulty on the Senate for passing a version of the bill that Egmont group already rejected in 2014, noting that the House has been vindicated with the percentage of the House recommendations adopted in the harmonized version.
According to Oladele, “an effort was made in 2014 to by the 7th Assembly to resolve this, and a bill was sponsored in the Senate, referred to as financial intelligence Agency bill, when that bill was introduced, a copy was sent to the Egmont group for consideration in 2013 and by 2014 Egmont replied that the bill was not going to be accepted if they pass it, because it contained a lot of things that will violate their rules. They urged Nigeria to review the bill so it was not passed by the last Assembly.
“When Egmont suspended Nigeria last year, that same bill that Egmont objected to is the same one passed by the senate. As far as Egmont is concerned, the Senate version would have been dead on arrival.
“Because it was the same bill the group objected to in 2014, the one that we introduced and passed in the House is the one that they accepted because before we passed it we already sent it to them they approved it.
“That is why if you look at the one we harmonized, the large portion of it came from the House. The highlight of the one that came from the senate are domiciliation and confirmation.”