EGMONT Group suspension: AGF okays Senate’s timely response

Stories by Vivian Okejeme Abuja

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has expressed satisfaction with the timely response by the Senate to Nigeria’s suspension from the EGMONT Group of Financial Intelligence Units recently through the accelerated passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA) Bill. Th is is contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to AGF, Salihu Isah. According to the statement, the AGF is excited with the swift response by the Senate in approaching the legislative process since the suspension of Nigeria as a member of the EGMONT Group was made public and which led to the resultant passage of the bill. Malami believes that with this eff ort by the National Assembly, Nigeria is on the verge of not only escaping the impending expulsion; the nation will continue to strive to earn its full membership status as soon as possible.

Th e minister, particularly commended the Senate President Bukola Sarakiled Senate and chairman, Senate Committee on AntiCorruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi. He, therefore, urged the House of Representatives to adopt the spirit of the Senate by promptly aligning with its position so that the Bill would be assented to in the next couple of days by the Presidency. AGF stressed that agreeing on the bill will ensure that Nigeria escapes the expulsion threat by the Egmont Group and the obvious embarrassment it will cause the nation.

It would be recalled that at its 24thPlenary of the Group held in Macao, a Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) from July 2-7, 2107, chaired by Mr. Sergio Espinosa, chair of the Egmont Group, Nigeria was suspended for lack of the independence of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Besides, its decision by consensus to clampdown on Nigeria arose from repeated failures on the part of the NFIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confi dential information, specifi cally related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges. Th e Group however, expressed its hope that the Nigerian authorities will address these concerns to enable it lift the suspension as soon as possible. About 354 participants representing 112 Financial Intelligence Units were in attendance at the meeting

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