The Senate will consider the report of the Conference Committee on Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA) Bill on Wednesday.
This followed presentation of the conference committee’s report by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Chukwuka Utazi, at Tuesday plenary.
The Bill seeks to grant financial and operational autonomy to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), which is currently domiciled at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It was reliably gathered that the conference committee adopted the recommendation of the Senate, which removed the Unit from the anti-graft agency and domiciled it at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Recall that the Egmont group, which is a global network of 154 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), had earlier suspended Nigeria at its last general meeting in July 2017, with a threat to expel the country if the Unit had not been given autonomy by its next meeting holding on March 11, 2018.
If expelled, the country will suffer a blacklist in the global finance sector and Nigerian Banks will be unable to issue Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards while card transactions with Nigerian originated cards will be blocked. This means Nigerians will be unable to carry out foreign transactions.
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, disclosed that the Bill will be considered on Wednesday.
While commending Utazi and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Kayode Oladele, for putting aside their differences and presenting a harmonised report, he expressed optimism that the Bill will be passed and signed into law before the group’s meeting this weekend.
Last week, Utazi accused his counterpart in the lower legislative chamber, Kayode Oladele, of derailing the process of having a legal framework that would guarantee independence of the NFIU.
But Oladele fired back, insisting that the senator was behind the delay in the enactment of the bill.
However, a meeting between Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, ordered the two lawmakers to meet and present a conference report to both legislative chambers.
The conference committee met on Monday, where the two versions were harmonised.