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Senate passes bill pulling Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit out of EFCC in 24 hours

Twenty-four hours after the Senate mandated its Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption to sponsor a bill seeking autonomy for the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, the bill has emerged.

The committee was given four weeks to do its job.

Chairman of the panel, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, at the plenary on Thursday presented the bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency and it passed the first reading.

President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, said the bill would pass the second reading before the lawmakers go on their annual recess next week.

He specifically mandated the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, which is responsible for the schedules of legislative activities, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai, to fix the second reading of the bill to next week.

“Let us see if we can schedule it for second reading next week and do our best to see if we can pass it as quickly as possible.

“Chairman of the Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, please take note of that,” Saraki said.

The Senate panel had, on Wednesday, expressed its readiness to probe into the management of international grants received by the NFIU under the EFCC.

The legislature also said it would move the unit out of the commission and make it independent.

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The move followed the adoption of a motion by Utazi, titled, ‘Dire Implications of the Suspension of Nigeria from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.’

The lawmakers unanimously granted all the prayers of the motion, including to pass a law that would create “a substantive and autonomous Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit and make the unit legally and operationally autonomous, with powers for the employment, reward, training, promotion and discipline of its workforce independently.”

Another prayer was to urge the Executive to include in any supplementary budget estimate that might be presented to the National Assembly before the end of the year as a separate budget for the NFIU in view of the need to lift the suspension of Nigeria as soon as possible.

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