EFCC says poor funding hampers its operations

By The Citizen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in Abuja on Monday that it urgently required immediate capital injection for its continued operations.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr Emmanuel Aremu, announced the figure at the public hearing on the bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA).

He said that no funds have been released to the agency for the discharge of its operations.

Aremu said the poor financial position of the EFCC was made known to the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes during an oversight visit.

He said the EFCC had been so cash-strapped to the extent that at the present, it has less than N2 million in its account.

“I could recollect when the committee paid an oversight visit, we did make our financial position known to the committee that as at now EFCC does not have N2 million in its accounts.

“We have been complaining that no money has been released for us for operations. 'As at now we don’t have up to N2 million.

“If we can afford to pay salary this month (December) that is all. That is the position under which we operate,” Aremu said.

Aremu also opposed the bill which seeks to establishment the NFIA as an independent financial intelligence system for the country.

He argued that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) currently domiciled within the EFCC was discharging its responsibility efficiently without complaints from financial institutions.

Aremu said if granted an autonomous status, the FIU would become exposed to desperate politicians who were capable of securing court injunctions to frustrate its operations.

“All the (existing) FIU needs is adequate funding to continue its work. This bill (NFIA) is unnecessary and should be jettisoned,' he said.

The Director, Legal Services, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Amusa Ogundana, who represented the CBN governor, said the apex bank supported the establishment of NFIA.

Ogundana, however, suggested that some portion of the NFIA Bill should be deleted because it imposed supervisory and regulatory functions on the agency.

“CBN is wholeheartedly in support of having this bill sail through.

We believe it will strengthen the administrative and operational performance of the agency,' he said.

However, the Representative of the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Mr Joseph Sunday noted that the FIU as presently structured lacked a legal status.

Sunday, who is the NDLEA Director of Prosecution Services, said the agency supported the bill because it would empower the FIU to effectively disseminate financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies.

Similarly, Mrs Blessing Egbefor, representing the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) said the bill would strengthen the fight against financial crimes.

“NAPTIP supports the bill, so that the FIU can discharge its administrative and operational functions with greater autonomy,' she said.

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Department of State Services (DSS) and the ICPC were among other agencies that supported the bill.

Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Sen. Victor Lar urged the stakeholders to ensure that their inputs were in the national interest.

“In the National Assembly, we are driven only by national interest and considerations. Not individual and parochial interests.

“You should make contributions that would serve the national interest,” he said.

The bill will establish a national agency responsible for the receipt of information from financial institutions for the purposes of turning such information into financial intelligence.

The agency will analyse, assess and disseminate the financial intelligence reports to all law enforcement agencies.

The agency is expected to institutionalise best practices in financial intelligence management in Nigeria.