House ‘ll stop massive fraud in govt, says Speaker
House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal has lashed out at government agencies, saying they are inefficient and ineffective. They are responsible for billions of Naira being stolen from government over the years, he said.
According to him, the era of financial impunity is about to end, with the establishment of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency that would be backed by foolproof legislations.
There were allegations of a missing $49b (later reduced to $10b) from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The Police Pension Commission was also enmeshed in stolen N23b among several fund mismanagement cases,
Speaking at the public hearing by the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotic and Financial Crimes on the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency Bill yesterday, Tambuwal said the bill “will no doubt help in rectifying the deficiencies in our financial system, especially the sheer number of loopholes that make it possible for people to perpetrate massive fraud and go unpunished”.
He said: “The House of Representatives is, therefore, fully in support of the effort to evolve an efficient and effective management, administration and operation of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency for the purpose of generating and analysing Financial Intelligence.
“The Bill equally seeks to institutionalise the application of best practices in Financial Intelligence Management in Nigeria. We have all seen the consequences of the reckless and cavalier manner that public officials and civil servants manage public funds.
“Today, billions of naira go missing in this country every year as a result of mismanagement and outright theft of money belonging to the commonwealth.
“We believe that this level of financial impunity is possible because of dubious accounting procedures and the lack of a specialised agency that is able to get facts and details of these intricate web of corrupt practices and ensure that the perpetrators are successfully prosecuted.
“We want to move our nation from the prevailing system whereby only a select few is privy to the complex way that money gets moved around in this country and so they could hide under the shadows and perpetrate all kinds of scam.”
The EFCC was absent from the public hearing. The anti-graft agency, via a letter to the Adams Jagaba-headed committee, asked that the event be shifted to a more convenient date for it to attend.
Jagaba, in his opening speech, said the bill “seeks to provide legislation for an institution responsible for generating and dispersing information on money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crimes.
“The bill, which is an Executive and Private member bill, is aimed at establishing an autonomous national agency that will be responsible for the receipt of information from financial institutions and designated financial bodies for analyzing and documenting such information for the purpose of converting this information into financial intelligence that could be transmitted to the relevant law enforcement agencies, such as, EFCC, ICPC, DSS, ONSA, DMI, NPF, NSCDC, NIS, NCS, NAPTIP and DIA, for the purpose of apprehending crimes within and outside the country.
The bill received support from all the agencies and civil society organisations at the hearing. At the hearing were International Association of Criminal Justice Practitioners, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Zero Corruption Network, Public Awareness Network, Media Initiative Against injustice, Educational Watch Centre and Change Movement Nigeria, and Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights, amongst others.
The CCIDSR described the bill as “another opportunity to defeat terrorism and corruption in Nigeria”.
Educational Watch Centre said the NFIA Bill would show, for once, that Nigeria is willing to correct the flaw in its anti-corruption crusade.
According to the organisation, Nigeria has operational and institutional deficiencies, such as “deficient Anti-Money Laundering Act; weak Terrorism Act; Absence of Mutual Legal Assistance Act; absence of Proceed of Crime/Asset Recovery and Management Body and absence of Whistle Blowers Protection Act”.
It said the NFIA Bill would give the country a new image before the international community.