Forensic Accountants Back Separation of NFIU from EFCC

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Paul Obi in Abuja

Society for Forensic Accountants and Fraud Prevention (SFAFP) saturday threw its weight behind the Senate over the new bill seeking to separate the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Senate had last week passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA) Bill sequel to the threat by Egmont Group to expel Nigeria after it suspended the country over some violations.

Speaking to journalists at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Academy in Keffi, Nasarawa State, SFAFP Chairman and Second Vice President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) Prof. Benjamin Osisioma, argued that the bill the Senate passed was in the right direction and was geared towards responding to global trends.

Osisioma said: “The EFCC is facing some global challenges. The Financial intelligence wing is supposed to be an independent body operating separately.

“In as much as EFCC has tried to give it some autonomy to enable it to operate, but now, unless this particular trend is undertaken, we are going to be deregistered by the relevant authorities. So, it is like trying to protect our interest globally. It is not a bad decision.”

According to the University of Azikiwe, Awka Professor of Accounting, “what we are doing here too is to strengthen the financial intelligence agency, strengthen the EFCC, strengthen the ICPC and strengthen every accounting organisation that is really interested in fighting corruption.

“We want to give teeth to the fight against corruption and the only way we can do it is to train forensic accountant. Even after documents are burnt, forensic accountant can retrieve information from them. Every crime has a trial and the forensic accountant is trained to follow the trial,” Osisioma added.

He said, “The potentials of forensic accountants are tapped. In the moot court exercise, they are trained on how to bring the evidence together and convict criminals. We are helping to make sure that corruption does not kill Nigeria.
“We want to ensure that people stop embezzlement of public funds because if they do, forensic accountants will catch them. The problem with the new scheme is that those who profited under the old scheme will not allow it to work. Those who will benefit from the new scheme are lukewarm in their support.”

SFAFP Executive Secretary, Dr. Abuchi Ogbudu stated that the training “was to train out the vanguard. These are the main people we will use to do the work out there. They have been trained on how to defend their financial investigations and present them in court without any lapse along the line.
“They have been trained in the arts and science of accounting. Our target is to gear them towards prevention of fraud which is a better approach than fighting fraud,” Ogbudu stated.

Meanwhile, indications emergency yesterday of a move by the EFCC lobby machine to the House of Representatives to persuade members of the lower chamber not to support the NFIA Bill as passed by the Senate.

Already, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara was quoted recently, opposing the decision to remove the NFIU unit from EFCC.

Dogara was said to have made his opposition to the NFIA Act known, stating that, “efforts to take the NFIU out of the EFCC, unnecessary, will frustrate fight against corruption. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. Sincerely, I believe that the NFIU should be under the EFCC.”