Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari wednesday signed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill into law.
Making this disclosure, while briefing journalists in the State House, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, said NFIU was the Nigerian arm of the global Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), which he said, was hitherto domiciled in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as an autonomous unit operating in the African region.
The NFIU has the duty to ensure a country’s compliance with international standards on matters bordering on money laundering and terrorism financing. It is also mandated to check suspicious transactions.
Enang, who added that the unit, which also had the responsibility to receive, request, analyse, and disseminate financial intelligence to relevant agencies, would henceforth be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The Act establishes the NFIU as a central body in Nigeria responsible for the receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating financial intelligence to agencies and other relevant authorities to enable the institutions act on same. The agency is an independent and operationally autonomous institution domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he said.
The passage of the NFIU Bill and its eventual signing by the president followed the suspension of Nigeria from Egmont group last year over the country’s failure to separate the unit from EFCC and accord it the required independent status.
Its earlier emergence was predicated on the requirements of Recommendation 29 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards and Article 14 of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)
NFIU had been admitted in 2007 into the Egmont Group, a global body responsible for setting standards on best practices for FIUs in over 131 FIUs from 131 jurisdictions.
The Egmont group was reportedly founded in 1995 to foster international collaboration in the exchange of intelligence by member states, support and influence the work of FATF in relation to the mandate of FIUs under FATF Recommendations 29 and 40.