In its bid to ensure that Nigeria as a country is not expelled from the Egmont Group, the Senate has considered and passed the conference committee report on a bill to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU) as an independent agency from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Nigeria is currently serving a suspension from Egmont Group, a body of 154 financial intelligence units (FIUs) across the world, which provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The group had also threatened to expel the country if the Nigerian Government failed to grant the unit the autonomy required to become its member.
As a result of Nigeria’s failure to grant operational autonomy to the financial intelligence unit, a situation which the group has objected to for years, the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit which represents Nigeria in the Egmont Group, was suspended at its July 2017 meeting in China.
If expelled, Nigeria will suffer a blacklist in the global finance sector and Nigerian banks will be unable to issue Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards while card transactions with Nigerian originated cards will be blocked, meaning that Nigerians would not be able to carry out foreign transactions.
E-commerce firms will also be affected since their business models are largely online. They would be forced to rely on cash for transactions, which comes with higher processing costs.
The expulsion could also throw a spanner in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s bid to improve financial inclusion.
Manufacturers in the country will also be affected as a large proportion of their raw materials are imported.
With the passage, the bill is now ready for onward transmission to the President for assent and if signed, the bill is expected to act as the central body in Nigeria responsible for requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating financial and other information to all law enforcement and security agencies and other relevant authorities in the country.