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Senate Passes Forensic Accounting Bill

By Dipo Olowookere

The Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria Bill and Chartered Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria Bill were yesterday passed by the Senate.

This followed consideration of the clause by clause of a report submitted by Chairman of the Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Senator Emmanuel Paulker.

The report comprises Bills on Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria; Chartered Institute of Finance and Control in Nigeria; Chartered Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria.

Recall that prior to the passage of the Bill about four months ago Professional Accountants and Auditors from different bodies, at a public hearing on the Bills disagreed with the Senate on the proposed Bill for Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria; and Bill for Chartered Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria, respectively.

Consequently while speaking to participants at the forum, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said the relevance of forensic accounting globally could not be over stressed, noting that many countries across the world, including Nigeria have suffered from fraudulent practices.

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In their presentations, representatives of the Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria, Professor Usman Ali Awheela and the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria, CIFIAN, Mrs. Victoria Ayishetu Enape while applauding the senate for the proposed bills, noted that their members have not been allowed to practice forensic accounting since there was no legislation to that effect.

According to Mrs. Enape, if the Bill for Chartered Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria is passed “will help Nigeria to have skilled professionals to deepen the fraud prevention, detection and preserve money in government treasury for infrastructural development that is fast disappearing in our country today”.

She disabused the minds of stakeholders at the session about the alleged conflict between the functions of the CIFIA and other institutes established by existing legislations.

“CIFIA should not be seen as a rival to ICAN, just as CIFIA is not seen as a rival to ANAN. Nothing stops an accountant from becoming a member of ICAN and CIFIA or any other professional body for that matter”, she stressed.

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Mrs. Enape further informed that accounting profession has many branches with different responsibilities with professional bodies regulating their activities.

She added that the “auditing which has no professional body regulating it, gave the opportunity for financial accountants to claim autonomy, and as a matter of fact leads to their inability to control and prevent fraud, corruption and other financial crimes”.

In his submission, the Chief Executive of Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria, Prof. Awheela, said “forensic accounting is the unique blend of education and experience in applying accounting, auditing skills and investigative techniques to uncover truth, form legal opinions in order to assist in litigation support”.

According to him, “forensic accounting professionals provide assistance on cases which are primarily related to calculation and estimation of economic damages and related issues that includes white-collar crimes”.

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However, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN kicked against the proposed bills, saying their functions and responsibilities are already contained in the 1965 Act that established the Institute and would therefore amount to needless duplication of functions.

ICAN President, Mr. Ismaila Zakari informed that the Institute had in 2009 established seven Faculties to provide training for members in their areas of specialization, adding that they also provide specialist certification courses and issue certificates to qualified members as evidence of expertise and authority to practise their specialized skills.

“The Forensic accounting curriculum is carefully drawn to ensure that, to be a forensic accountant, one must necessarily be a qualified chartered accountant, be certain of technical competence and preserved professional integrity.

“From the foregoing, Forensic accounting is adequately covered within the scope of the training that ICAN provides and therefore, the quest for a separate Institute for just Forensic accounting is totally uncalled for”, Zakari stressed.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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