By Ibrahim Lawal

They fought against it; they saw nothing good in having an autonomous Financial Intelligence Center. They said there was nothing wrong with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit –NFIU being at the mercy of EFCC, as its appendage. They victimized and vilified the former NFIU Director for promoting the course of NFIU autonomy.. They fought her out of office, alleging insubordination.

They fought the Chairman, Presidential Committee on the Financial Action Task Force, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, as well as the Senate and House Committee leadership for maintaining their position on the need to create an independent FIU for Nigeria. They hacked emails, and made attempts on the lives of everyone that worked with the Committee on the Bill. Daily harassment and intimidation was the order of the day; all because of the move to establish an independent Financial Intelligence Center for Nigeria as required by international Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

On the 16th of December 2013, the bill that the EFCC fought to frustrate for a long time made further headway. That was the day of the Senate Public Hearing on the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center (NFIC). In a show of frustration and obvious desperation, the Commission came to defend the indefensible. It was so dramatic that the EFCC was on one side, while over twenty other stakeholders were on the other side. To my amazement, even the Police, which is Mr. Lamorde's primary constituency refused to condone the Commission's unreasonable view. Civil Society Organizations came out in their numbers to support the Bill, while condemning EFCC's unpatriotic stance.

The EFCC chairman represented by the Commission Secretary, in an argument described by many as 'uninformed,' stated that: “FIU, in most climes of the world, is run as a secret operational centre at the background of a major body like EFCC as it is presently in Nigeria.”

“FIU, as intended by the Bill should not be exposed to the public as a separate body on its own. It should be kept at the background as it is in most climes of the world.” This is an argument that has become so monotonous over the past eight years during which EFCC management led by Mr.. Ibrahim Lamorde, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, Emmanuel Akomaye, Farida Waziri fired every Director that spoke in favor of an independent FIU. The EFCC management falsified documents and presented false memos to justify their positions, including issuing a board resolution that purported to create an “independent FIU” without a legal framework. This board resolution was never presented to the Board of EFCC but was only meant to continue the fraud of misrepresenting the status of the Nigerian-FIU to the international community and to the presidency. The weakness of the FIU Nigeria was identified in several reports by International Monetary Fund, GIABA, FATF and the World Bank and eventually led to the “blacklisting of Nigeria” by FATF.

It is on record that despite the fraudulent representation of the NFIU's status by the management of the EFCC, more than twenty agencies, namely, the Central Bank of Nigeria, National Intelligence Agency, National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Directorate of State Security-DSS, The Police, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency-NDLEA, Customs Service, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission-ICPC, Immigration and all other stakeholders, including Civil Society Organizations, rose in support of the bill.

It is common knowledge that Mr. Aremu resumed duty as Executive Secretary of the Commission a few weeks before the Public hearing.. No doubt, he only read out a script prepared for him by the immediate past Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye and the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde.

The immediate past Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye is the same person that severally kicked against the move to make the NFIU independent. He, on several occasions opposed it and declared war on the proponents of NFIU autonomy.

Surprisingly, the same EFCC under the present leadership that insisted that the proposed Center was not necessary is now scheming to hijack it, even when it is yet to come into existence.

Information reaching us suggests that a purported “letter of appointment” was issued by the Minister of Justice in favor of the immediate past Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye to serve as the Director General of the proposed Center, even before the Bill was passed by the National Assembly and before the President has given his assent to the Bill.

This is an obvious breach of all known extant laws in Nigeria, including the public service rules. Legally, and morally, such an appointment should not be allowed by Nigerians to stand. Any attempt to do so will be resisted through all available legal and civil means, including a representation to the National Assembly.

The persons behind the blacklisting of Nigeria by FATF through falsification of FIU documents cannot be seen changing tactics to take over the NFIC through the back door and continue their old ways. The same people that have turned the EFCC into a “Gestapo organization” and made mockery of Nigeria's anti-corruption war are also positioning to hijack the Center; just to ensure that the anti-corruption, anti-money –laundering and anti-terrorism –financing war is frustrated. How can a dog eat the bone hung on its neck?

Terrorism is presently holding the country by the jugular. It is financed through money laundering. Thousands of people are being killed in Nigeria by terrorists. The greatest challenge facing counter-terrorism in Nigeria is the absence of good intelligence. The only Center that is about to be created to ensure and enhance financial intelligence gathering and dissemination is under threat of hijack by the same persons whose conducts are questionable.

The multi-million dollar question is: Why must Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, who spent ten years (2003- July 2013) as Executive Secretary of EFCC, and who vehemently opposed operational autonomy for the NFIU ever be considered to head the new Center. How can one give what he does not have? How can one be given charge over what he never believed in?

What will be the fate of other law enforcement agencies that were denied information by the EFCC under his leadership? Would this not amount to taking over the NFIC by another stooge of the EFCC? What is Akomaye's track record as Secretary of the EFCC in the ten years that he served?

Nobody should be allowed to take Nigerians for a ride! Nigerians must rise to say no to this unending deception. I urge the National Assembly to call the leadership of the EFCC to order and to demand that rule of law, federal character, and equity is maintained by this administration.

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