A bill which aims to separate the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) scaled first reading in the Senate yesterday.
This is coming less than 24 hours after the upper chamber raised the alarm over the suspension of Nigeria by the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Unit.
The Bill, sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North), seeks to create autonomous NFIU, which will not be domiciled in the EFCC.
The move to create an independent NFIU is line with the demand of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Unit which had given the country December 2017 deadline to comply or risk expulsion from the group.
The Senate had on Wednesday debated the suspension of Nigeria from the Egmont Group for failing to grant autonomy to the NFIU.
The upper chamber declared its intention to give an accelerated hearing to the Bill to ensure that the NFIU becomes independent before the December 2017 deadline given by Egmont Group.
Shortly after the Bill scaled first reading, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, directed the Business and Rules Committee to ensure that the Bill was scheduled for Second Reading on Tuesday next week.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi told reporters that the Senate does not want anybody to doubt the supportive role of the upper chamber to the fight against corruption in the country.
The Senate Abdullahi said, has its own input to make to ensure the success of the anti-graft war.
He noted that for any anti-graft agency to succeed in its task, it must share intelligence report with sister agencies in the world.
He said: “Our worry is that Nigeria was suspended from the Egmont Group basically because NFIU has not been granted autonomy and still domiciled in EFCC. The essence of it is that in sharing intelligence, there are protocols that must be respected. The Senate is committed to ensuring that the right thing is always done. We must be proactive. If you strengthen the NFIU you are strengthening other intelligence units in the country.”