The Nigerian House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center Bill.
The bill which was earlier passed by the Senate seeks to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center to perform the traditional function of collecting, analyzing and disseminating financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other authorized entities.
It is designed to provide a sustainable and credible legal framework for the Financial Intelligence Center-FIC, Nigeria. As is the accepted practice in other jurisdictions, the Bill seeks to provide the FIC with operational independence and autonomy, and greater ability to provide financial intelligence to all relevant competent authorities in order to strengthen anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.
The NFIC Bill was a subject of controversy following what pundits describe as “several misconceptions caused by distortion of facts by those opposed to its passage.”
It would be recalled that the third reading and passage of the Bill suffered setback following a strong opposition from a group in the lower Chamber, who earlier claimed not to have received copies of the report of the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial crimes.
Reacting to the passage of the bill, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba described it as another show of the commitment of the present House leadership in the war against money laundering, terrorism and corruption in Nigeria.
Jagaba commended his colleagues for their support, even as he spoke of the need for credible and competent persons to be appointed to head the Center.
Adding his voice, Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC, Walter Duru commended the lawmakers for the passage, even as he challenged them on other related anti-corruption bills.
He described the proposed Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center as central to the success of the war against money laundering and terrorist financing in Nigeria.
Duru, a Communication and Civil Society expert reiterated the commitment of the Initiative to sustaining the war against corruption in Nigeria, describing it as the country’s greatest problem.
“MIIVOC shall never relent in this struggle. Corruption is Nigeria’s greatest and most formidable problem. We also urge the lawmakers to make haste to pass other related anti-corruption related bills, especially, the Proceeds of Crime, Whistle Blowers Protection and Mutual Legal Assistance Bills.”
This NFIC Bill is aimed to establish a national agency that will be responsible for the receipt of information from financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions, analysis of the financial information for the purpose of turning this information into financial intelligence and dissemination of the financial intelligence to all law enforcement agencies.
The Bill will ensure that the NFIU is not tied to any agency but will have adequate measures to build an independent financial intelligence system.