OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has passed a bill to establish a Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

The passage of the bill, after resumption of the consideration on the report submitted by Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, will help Nigeria escape expulsion from the Egmont Group.

It would be recalled that the consideration of the report was adjourned on the 16th of November, 2017 after the House Stalled on Clause 5, over nomenclature and process of appointment of head of the unit.

Recall also that last Thursday, Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Kayode Oladele, tried to appeal to his colleagues to pass the bill.

Mr. Oladele had said that the Egmont Group being a global body with stringent conditions and requirements on the composition of the unit, required independence of the NFIU.

But the Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf who presided over the session rebutted Oladele’s position, noting that Nigeria is a sovereign nation that must make laws putting into consideration the nation’s political interests.

The bill had also proposed that the head of the unit be appointed by the President without subjecting the appointment to Senate’s approval.

However, while presiding over the consideration of the report on Thursday as Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, Mr. Lasun took a mild position and appealed to members to pass the bill as Nigeria stands to lose more from expulsion from the Egmont group.

He added that he changed his position after consultations with members of the Executive and listening to experts on international finance.

In the bill as passed, the nomenclature ‘unit’ was retained while a new ‘Clause 5 (2e) was introduced which reads: “The Director of the Unit shall be a member of the board of the EFCC.”

Clause 26 was deleted after the Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, raised an alarm that the section gives the Attorney General the power to make recommendation on the smooth running of the unit.

Gbajabiamila said that such discretionary power if given to the Attorney General defeats the argument of total autonomy and also undermines the powers of the National Assembly.

Recall that the Senate passed the same bill within a week in July after Nigeria was suspended from the Egmont Group.

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