Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has accused banks of creating a friendly atmosphere for looters to operate.
He added that some banks were currently behind the moves to separate the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit and the EFCC.
Magu further alleged that when the NFIU is established as a separate agency, a former bank managing director would be named as the head of the agency.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the EFCC quoted Magu as saying this while receiving a delegation of the International Monetary Fund, which visited the commission’s head office, Abuja on Thursday.
The Senate had on Thursday passed a bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency barely a week after it was sponsored in the chamber.
The powers and funding of the EFCC will be greatly reduced should the NFIU be separated from the commission.
Magu said, “I don’t trust the financial institutions. They create an enabling environment for thieves to loot our money. That is why they are fighting to remove the NFIU from us. They want to use a former managing director of a bank to head the NFIU.”
Magu had last week inaugurated a committee to reposition the NFIU, which was recently suspended by the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
The Egmont Group is an informal international gathering of over 132 financial intelligence units which provide the backbone for monitoring international money laundering activities
However, the NFIU, which is under the EFCC, was suspended by the Egmont Group for its lack of autonomy and absence of a proper operational framework.
Magu had set up a committee comprising former officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions to help reposition the unit.
The EFCC, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said, “The committee which has members drawn from law enforcement, financial and regulatory agencies is chaired by Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, a former Director-General of the Inter-Governmental Action Against Money Laundering in West Africa.
“Other members of the committee are Mr. Chidi Chukwuka from the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation; Mr. Bamanga Bello, Head of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering; Hajia Jamila Yusuf of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Mr. Udofia Obot, a former Deputy Director, CBN; while Mrs Joke Liman of the EFCC is to serve as secretary.”