The Senate on Wednesday passed the bill setting up the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) as an independent body.
The NFIU is currently under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The passage of the Bill by the Senate is following its passage on Tuesday by the House of Representatives.
Using his official Twitter handle @bukolasaraki on Wednesday the Senate President described the passage of the bill as another significant step in the fight against corruption. He thanked the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi and the Senators for helping in delivering the promise earlier made that the Bill will be passed this week.
The Senate President had earlier on Sunday expressed confidence that the Upper House will pass the bill this week.
Saraki after the passage then urged the executive to quickly assent to the bill and ensure the independence of the unit.
“I want to thank the members of the committees in the fight against corruption because our suspension from the EGMONT group has a lot of ramifications.
“I hope that by this conference report, they (Egmont) will have a second view and readmit us into the process. I hope on the part of the executive, they will quickly assent and ensure the independence of the Financial Intelligence Unit goes beyond signing into law,” he said
The bill if assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari will make the NFIU independent of EFCC.
Nigeria risked being expelled by the Egmont Group if the bill wasn’t passed earlier. The Egmont Group is a united body of 156 FIUs which provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The group had demanded autonomy for the NFIU as a condition for the suspension to be lifted, failing which Nigeria would be expelled in March 2018.
In the event of an expulsion, Nigeria would no longer benefit from financial intelligence shared by the member countries of the group. This might also obstruct the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad.
To stop Nigeria’s expulsion from the EGMONT Group, the Senate has passed the Report of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill awaiting assention by the executive.