NFIU Clarifies ‘Unauthorised’ Correspondence, Insists Politicians Not under Probe

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James Emejo in Abuja

Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) yesterday said the recently leaked letter from the organisation in which information on certain categories of public officers was requested had been issued by an officer of the unit without authorisation.

To this end, it clarified that no politician is currently being investigated, contrary to media reports.

“For the avoidance of doubt, their excellencies, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of the Federation, as well as senators, members of the House of Representatives, justices and other members of the judiciary are not under investigation by the NFIU,” the agency said, in a statement by its Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko.

A letter from the unit had emerged last week in which banks were directed to provide accounts details of some politically exposed persons (PEPs). The development elicited reactions from far and near.

NFIU, which initially disowned the letter, however, said the officer who issued it did so out of ignorance and without approval as the agency already had all the details of PEPs and needed no further request.

He said issuance of the letter did not follow due process, adding that the matter was being investigated.

“We have noticed that while some individuals who seem to be favourable to government are creating the wrong impression that the opposition is using the NFIU, those in the opposition seem to be speaking through some non-governmental organisations and insinuating that government is using the NFIU to its political advantage. Both positions are not only untrue but patently unimaginable.

“It has become necessary that the officer who initiated the request was obviously unacquainted with the fact that the NFIU already had access to such information through its database.

“It is also pertinent to note that the NFIU has the major responsibility, in accordance with global standards, to maintain and regularly update the list of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). It will be recalled that a new government was inaugurated in May 2019.”

According to him, “The officer who initiated the unauthorised letter was also taking the initiative to update the PEPs list. The list includes politicians and political appointees in all organs of government.

“The update exercise which is a regular practice in order to protect public funds and other assets is also in accordance with global best practice.

“We appeal to members of the public that it is needless to make political capital out of this as the entire country is just one co-signatory with other 164 members of the FIU process.

“Having been aware that the leaked letter was not subjected to the appropriate level of authorisation before transmission, the NFIU has commenced investigation to unravel the persons and factors that led to the inadvertent circumvention of our internal process in this isolated case with a view to applying appropriate sanctions as deterrence.”

In an earlier correspondence, the organisation said the unit did not make blanket requests to all banks.