President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday said the prompt passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill by the National Assembly will not only facilitate the country’s readmission into the EGMONT Group rather than being expelled.
He said that the Bill when assented to would make the NFIU an independent entity and also help the country in the fight against corruption.
Saraki made the remarks following the adoption of the Conference Committee Report on the NFIU by the Senate.
According to the amended Act, the NFIU will now be domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) instead of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a situation that led to Nigeria’s suspension from the EGMONT Group.
After suspending Nigeria, the Egmont Group had demanded that the NFIU should be pulled out of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, among other requirements.
The Bill was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Saraki in his remarks thanked the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, and all Senators for their work on the Bill and said that their action will ensure that Nigeria remains a member of the EGMONT Group.
Saraki said: “I hope that with this (NFIU) Bill that we have passed today — this Conference Report — that they will have a second view and re-admit us (Nigeria) into the process (EGMONT Group).
“I hope on the part of the Executive, they will quickly assent to this Bill and also ensure that the independence of the Financial Unit goes beyond just signing this Bill into law.
“It is important that we see it being practiced — this is very important. I hope on their part, this will be done so that our country stays as part of the EGMONT Group that has a lot of benefits for our fight against corruption. I thank you all, my colleagues, for how quickly you responded to this. You came quickly to save the country,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Senate President has also revealed that since the 8th Senate was inaugurated in June 2015, it has confirmed 227 out of 240 nominees that it received from the Executive.
Speaking after the confirmation of Hon. Ibrahim Rufai Imam, as the new Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal, Saraki said: “Let me on behalf of the entire Senate congratulate the new Grand Khadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Hon. Ibrahim Rufai Imam and wish him a successful tenure. I hope that he continues to play his role in the judiciary.
“So far, we have treated about 240 confirmations here in the Senate, of which 227 have been affirmative and only 13 have been negative.
“Sometimes, we get the impression that this Senate tends to say more ‘No’ than ‘Yes.’ But these numbers today show the level of cooperation that we will continue to give the executive.”