The Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, on Wednesday announced that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit under its supervision would get full autonomy on January 1, 2018.
Magu made this known while appearing before the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption to defend estimates in the 2018 budget proposal of the commission.
The EFCC boss said the unit had been granted self-accounting status.
The move is part of the requirements to prevent Nigeria from being expelled from the Egmont Group.
The Egmont Group had suspended Nigeria in July 2017.
The body is made up of financial intelligence units of 155 countries and provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
Magu told the committee that the self-accounting status of the NFIU was granted by the Accountant General of the Federation and the Budget Office of the Federation.
“They were operationally autonomous actually, but now they would be on their own. They have an account department that would now manage their finances, independent of the EFCC. But they still remain with us in principle,” Magu said.
The Chairman of the committee, Chukwuka Utazi, however, noted that the N800m budgeted for the NFIU in 2018 was too small from what was required for its take off.
He said the amount might not even be sufficient for foreign travels which was common with officials of the unit.
Utazi urged Magu to provide all the necessary supports to the NFIU to fully take off and establish itself.
He said, “If the impression is to let Nigerians think you are letting them go, and that is not the reality, it does not help anyone. N800m is not going to work. They have to go with all necessary prerequisite, so their budget has to be done properly. If there are people that would be seconded from the EFCC to the NFIU, the foundation must be laid now, so that the world can take us seriously. We are working against expulsion by January.”
The lawmaker also directed the EFCC boss to present details of the NFIU’s workforce and other requirements pertaining to their autonomy.
Confirming Magu’s announcement, the Director of the NFIU, Mr. Francis Usani, said, “On 15th of September, 2017, we got our financial code from the Accountant General of the Federation, which says we have financial autonomy.”
The Metro Lawyer
Tayo Fabusiwa is a Student of Law, a Legal Writer, as well as an Illustrious Researcher.