The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has been separated from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC, disclosed this when he appeared before the senate committee on anti-corruption and financial crimes on Wednesday.
Magu was at the upper legislative chamber to defend the 2017 budget of his agency.
He said from January 1, 2018, NFIU would begin to operate as an independent organisation.
“We have allowed NFIU to go. They are operationally autonomy independent of EFCC,” he said.
“We have given them financial autonomy. We presented a proposal of N2.9 billion for the takeoff of the agency in the 2018 budget, but the budget office proposed N800 million.
“They will start operating as an independent unit from January 1, 2018.”
In July, TheCable reported how Egmont Group, a global body which has representatives from 156 countries, suspended Nigeria.
The group provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering activities.
The suspension, which was announced at the Egmont Group meeting held in China from July 2 to July 7, 2017, was caused partly by the failure of the federal government to pass a law making NFIU autonomous.
The group had warned that if Nigeria failed to comply with its demands for a legal framework granting freedom to the NFIU by January 2018, the country would be expelled.
It also mandated the government to make NFIU autonomous in its funding, operations and management of intelligence.
Less than a week after TheCable’s report, the senate passed the Nigeria intelligence financial agency (NFIA) bill to remove the unit from the control of the EFCC.
Initially, Magu opposed the move to separate the unit from the EFCC, describing it as “corruption fighting back”.
“I understand the workings of Financial Intelligence Units around the world and they are domiciled in law enforcement agencies based on their credibility,” he had told select editors in Abuja.
“This is another way of corruption fighting back; people are fighting and pretending to be in support of what is ongoing, but they are not giving a face to the fight against corruption.”
With the autonomy given to NFIU, Nigeria would continue to enjoy the platform for members to share expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.