Posted by Destiny Ugorji | 5 March 2018 | 1,678 times
A civil society organisation, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to avert Nigeria’s imminent expulsion from the Egmont group of Financial Intelligence Units by assenting to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA) Bill immediately.
MIIVOC’s Executive Director, Dr. Walter Duru, made the call on Saturday in Abuja. He commended the leadership of the National Assembly for promptly resolving the impasse that arose over where to domicile the proposed Agency, describing their action as patriotic.
Duru, however, retained his earlier fears over the imminent expulsion of Nigeria from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, if a clean copy of the NFIA Bill is not immediately transmitted and the President assenting immediately, arguing that it portends grave danger for the nation if allowed to happen.
According to him, the National Assembly deserves commendations for doing what he described as the needful, reiterating the grave danger facing Nigeria if expelled by the Egmont Group of FIUs.
“If expelled, Nigeria will be listed as a high-risk jurisdiction country, with far reaching implications,” Duru said.
He blamed Nigeria’s present suspension from the group on the absence of operational autonomy for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, as well as the absence of confidentiality in the handling of financial intelligence, commending the National Assembly for harmonizing its report, even as he called on her to quickly transmit same to the President for his immediate assent.
His words: “Nigeria was suspended by the Egmont Group of FIUs in July, 2017, following the absence of operational autonomy for the NFIU, among other related concerns. The failure of Nigeria to pass a law making the NFIU independent is the main issue. Today, the main discrepancy, which was where the agency would be domiciled is resolved in favour of the Central bank of Nigeria. This is indeed, a step in the right direction. Now, even if the bill is not perfect, let it be finalised and transmitted immediately, while amendments come later. We must avert this imminent danger.
“The Egmont group will be meeting from the 11th to the 16th of March, 2018 and If Nigeria fails to comply with the group’s demand for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU in the next few days, the country may be expelled from the global body, which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering and terrorist financing activities.”
Continuing, Duru said: “When expelled, Nigeria will no longer benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other one hundred and fifty-six member-countries, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad will be hampered.
“Another major consequence will be the blacklisting of Nigeria in international finance, and this could affect the use of credit cards, as the credit lines offered by corresponding banks would be cut off. In fact, financial instruments from Nigeria may not be honoured abroad.
“It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some major international transactions. Do not forget that Nigeria’s membership of the Egmont Group ensured the removal of Nigerian banks from the blacklist of international finance. The blacklisting of Nigeria in 2001, for instance, prevented the banks from engaging in correspondent banking with foreign institutions and also denied Nigerians access and ability to use foreign credit cards.
“The last Egmont group statement about Nigeria is very clear on what the issues are. The issue of autonomy for Nigeria FIU is the crux of the matter.”
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