Buhari Signs Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit Bill To Tackle Terrorism Financing

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President Muhammadu Buhari

 

By: SUNDAY ODE, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday signed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill into law, describing it as another veritable instrument in the fight against corruption.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, the NFIU Act is expected to strengthen the recently signed Executive Order 6 by President Buhari as well as tackle terrorism financing.

Enang, while speaking to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, noted that NFIU is 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 is expected 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 said the unit also had the responsibility to receive, request, analyse, and disseminate financial intelligence to relevant agencies will henceforth be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He said: “The Act establishes the NFIU as a central body in Nigeria responsible for the receiving, requesting, analyzing and disseminating financial intelligence reports and other information to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and other relevant authorities to enable the institutions Act on same.

“The agency is independent and operationally autonomous body institutionally domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“This Act dissolves the Nigeria financial intelligence unit established in the EFCC Act and consequentially amends the Economic and Financial Commission Act, the Money Laundering {Prohibition) Act among others.

“One of the key objectives of the Act is the creation of a legal, institutional and regulatory framework to ensure transparency, effective and efficient and management administration and operation of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence unit.

“Also the bill will institutionalize best practices in financial intelligence management in Nigeria and strengthen the existing system for combating money laundering and associated predicated offences, financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“The Act which makes the unit an autonomous body, makes provision for the unit to exchange information with financial intelligence institutions or similar bodies in other countries in matters relating to money laundering, terrorist financing activities and other predicated offences..

“Some of the functions of the Unit are to: receive request analyse and disseminate financial intelligence reports on money laundering, terrorist financing and other relevant information to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and other relevant authorities.

“Receiving and collect currency transactions reports, suspicious transactions reports and any information including records of wire transfers relevant to money laundering, financing of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated predicate offences from financial institutions, designated non-financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, security agencies and relevant regulatory and administrative authorities.

“Disseminate spontaneously and upon request, information and the results of analysis, related to money laundering, terrorist financing, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, associated predicate offences or other unlawful activity has taken place, is taking place or is about to take place in a secured manner to law enforcement agencies, security agencies, regulatory agencies and other competent authorities.

“Advise the supervisory authorities as it considers appropriate to combat money laundering, financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated predicate offences.

“Assist in the identification of the proceeds of unlawful activities,  the combating of money laundering, the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related activities.

“Make information collected and analyzed by it available to investigation, security and law enforcement agencies to facilitate the administration and enforcement of relevant laws

“Respond to requests for information by law enforcement and security agencies and other competent offences.

“Direct the monitoring of accounts, transfers and any other means of payment or transfer of funds.”

He also said that its earlier emergence was predicated upon 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. 

 

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