Estimated Reading Time: <1At the public hearing on the Bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it urgently needs capital injection for its continued operations.
The Secretary of the Board of EFCC, Mr Emmanuel Aremo, on Monday in Abuja said the poor financial position of EFCC was made known to the Senate committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes during an oversight visit.
He added that EFCC had been so cash-strapped to the extent that it had less than N2 million in its account.
“If we can pay salary this month, that is all. That is the position under which we operate’’, Aremo said.
Aremo kicked against the bill seeking to establish the NFIA.
He argued that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in the EFCC was discharging its responsibility efficiently without complaints from financial institutions.
Aremo said if granted autonomy, the FIU would become exposed to desperate politicians capable of securing court injunctions to frustrate its operations.
“All the FIU needs is adequate funding to continue its work. This NFIA bill is unnecessary and should be jettisoned”, he said.
The Director, Legal Services, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Amusa Ogundana, who represented the CBN Governor, said the apex bank supported the establishment of NFIA.
Ogundana, however, suggested that some portions of the NFIA Bill should be deleted because it imposed supervisory and regulatory functions on the agency.
“CBN is wholeheartedly in support of having this bill sail through.
“We believe it will strengthen the administrative and operational performance of the agency”, he said.
However, the Representative of the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Mr Joseph Sunday said FIU lacked legal status.
Sunday, NDLEA’s Director of Prosecution Services, said they supported the bill because it would empower FIU to effectively disseminate financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies.
Mrs Blessing Egbefor, representing the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), said the bill, when passed into law, would strengthen the fight against financial crimes.
“NAPTIP supports the bill, so that the FIU can discharge its administrative and operational functions with greater autonomy”, she said.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Department of State Services (DSS) and the ICPC were among other agencies that supported the bill.
Earlier, Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Sen. Victor Lar, urged the stakeholders to ensure that their inputs were in the national interest.
“In the National Assembly, we are driven only by national interest and considerations. Not individual and parochial interests.
“You should make contributions that would serve the national interest,” he said.
The bill seeks to establish a national agency that would receive information from financial institutions for the purpose of turning such information into financial intelligence.
The agency would then analyse, assess and disseminate the financial intelligence reports to all law enforcement agencies.
The agency is expected to institutionalise best practices in financial intelligence management in Nigeria.
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