NFIC: History Beckons On Tambuwal
As the Federal House of Representatives has just resumed from a long break Nigerians expect the Aminu Waziri Tambuwal-led legislature to face headlong the concurrence of the NFIC bill already passed at the Senate which will give rise to the creation of an independent Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center [NFIC] from the erstwhile Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit that used to be under the control only of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission[EFCC] and which has not so far made significant inroads into discovering and unmasking the funding masterminds of the armed Terrorists-Boko Haram.
It is a universal knowledge now that the dreaded terrorists that have wrecked havocs on Nigerians known as Boko Haram in Nigeria has steadily grown from a rag tag group that it was when it first reared its ugly head in 2009, under the leadership of the late Mohammed Yusuf, who was allegedly murdered extra judicially in police custody, into a sophisticated fighting machine, conquering and taking territories with apparent ease and bombing selected targets at will.
Behind the emergence and growing sophistication of the terror group, is no doubt a well heeled and complex web of multilateral funding, running into billions of dollars. That means that the terrorists enjoy very robust support of wealthy, well connected individuals, groups and organizations facilitated through well thought out money laundering schemes for the financing of their terrorist activities.
Consequently it is very clear to every discerning mind that the most effective way of tackling terrorism would be the unmasking of those persons who provide the financial backing that these evil persons rely upon to finance their terrorist activities. Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [HURIWA] has joined forces with over 24 non-governmental bodies to carry out advocacy campaign in support of the National Assembly to pass into law this executive bill that is well thought out by the President Good luck Jonathan-led administration to create an independent Financial Intelligence center to fully track and prosecute sponsors of terrorism and other heinous crimes against the Nigerian State.
It is against the foregoing background that the whole world through the United Nations came up with the formation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), 'the global coordinating body for Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML / CFT) efforts' and has also been described as the 'international standard setter on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction'.
The Financial Action Task force (FATF) in its recommendation29, requires that Countries should establish a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that would serve as a national centre for the receipt and analysis of (a) Suspicious Transaction Reports and (b) other information relevant to Money Laundering, associated predicate offences, terrorism financing and for the dissemination of the result of that analysis to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), Anti Corruption Agencies (ACAs)and other AML /CFT stakeholders otherwise known as Competent Authorities.
The United Nation's Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) also made a similar provision under its Article 14 to the effect that '…Countries shall consider the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to serve as a national centre for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information regarding potential money laundering'.
In the late 1990s, Nigeria was viewed negatively by the International Community as a pariah state that appears not to be cooperating in the global war against Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, not having the legal frame work to tackle the twin monster money laundering and financing of terrorism. As a matter of fact Nigeria was blacklisted as a non cooperating nation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
It was therefore in the light of the foregoing pressure by the International Community spear headed by the FATF, that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo established the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) as a unit domiciled in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in June 2004 although it became operational in 2005. The ongoing revolutionary effort by the Executive Council of the Federation headed by President Jonathan to make NFIC independent and effective must be supported by all and sundry and more particularly by Speaker Tambuwal and the house leadership that have consistently called for stiffer sanctions to be imposed for acts of corruption and money laundry.
Mr. Tambuwal, Sokoto state-born Attorney at law and constitutional lawyer prior to his election to the House has been a legislative and social activist who was in the forefront of the campaign against corruption. The House committee chairman on anti-corruption Mr. Adms Jagaba is also a man with the patriotic zeal to ensure that the national campaign to eradicate corruption becomes even more effective and efficient. Nigerians believe that the House will concur in no time to this NFIC bill.
Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and [email protected],www.huriwa.org.