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Egmont’s Suspension Of Nigeria: A Case For NFIC Bill

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Egmont’s Suspension Of Nigeria: A Case For NFIC Bill

By Walter Duru, Ph.D

Three weeks ago, the hammer of the world’s watchdog on money laundering and terrorist financing, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units fell on Nigeria for non-compliance with global best standards. The crux of the matter is the absence of autonomy for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit-NFIU.

The suspension which was announced at the Egmont Group meeting held in China from July 2nd to 7th, 2017, was following the refusal of Nigeria to make NFIU autonomous in its funding, operations and management of financial intelligence. The failure of Nigeria to pass a law making the NFIU independent is the kernel of the matter.

If Nigeria fails to comply with the group’s demand for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU by January, 2018, the country will be expelled from the global body, which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

When expelled, Nigeria will no longer be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other one hundred and fifty member-countries, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad will be hampered.

Another major consequence will be the blacklisting of Nigeria in international finance, and this could affect the issuance of MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards by Nigerian banks. In fact, financial instruments from Nigeria may not be honoured abroad.

It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some major international transactions. Nigeria’s membership of the Egmont Group ensured the removal of Nigerian banks from the blacklist of international finance. The blacklisting had prevented the banks from engaging in correspondent banking with foreign institutions and also denied Nigerians access to foreign credit cards.

Joining the Egmont group of FIUs was not easy for Nigeria. It is in fact, one of the greatest legacies of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. The suspension of Nigeria is a heavy blow; a major setback, and If Nigeria is expelled, then the country is in real mess.

Nigeria claims to have its FIU as an autonomous Unit in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; a situation that has exposed the country to international ridicule and embarrassment. Events over the years clearly show that there is no semblance of autonomy enjoyed by the NFIU.

The constant leaking of sensitive intelligence to Nigerian media, contrary to global best practices and the indiscriminate removal of FIU Directors by successive chairmen of the EFCC say it all.

In 2014, the Egmont Group warned Nigeria that it may suspend her if she refuses to enact a law granting NFIU autonomy. This warning never made any difference, as those opposed to the move worked very hard to suppress information and bend the rules. Now, that which stakeholders tried to avoid has finally happened. The worst- expulsion will certainly happen if we do not call the enemies of the country to order and do the needful.

There are four types of globally acknowledged Financial Intelligence Units. The first is the administrative type-FIU, which focuses on the traditional functions of an FIU- to collect, analyse and disseminate financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other authorized entities. This type of FIU does not engage in law enforcement or prosecution.

Next is the law enforcement type of FIU, which performs Police functions of arrest, detention, interrogation, investigation and prosecution; in addition to the traditional functions of an FIU, thereby becoming the custodians of Intelligence, as well as the end users.

The third type is the Judicial FIU, which engages in collation and analysis of financial intelligence, investigation, as well as prosecution of offenders; while the fourth is the hybrid type of FIU, which is a combination of the elements in the three earlier mentioned, depending on domestic preferences.

Nigeria joined the Egmont Group in 2007, opting for an administrative type of FIU. Having registered as an administrative FIU, it must be outside a law enforcement agency. The claim that we have our FIU in EFCC is indeed ridiculous. More laughable is that the EFCC Act describes the EFCC as Nigeria’s FIU.

The major advantage of an administrative-type FIU is that it focuses on the traditional functions of an FIU and not encumbered with police and prosecutorial duties. Indeed, the mandate of the FIU is different from that of law enforcement agencies such as the police and the EFCC. While law enforcement agencies carry out investigations and also prosecute, FIUs do not. This allows for specialization, separation of powers and responsibilities, checks and balances, transparency and accountability. Concentration of multiple responsibilities in the FIU beyond the traditional duties makes the FIU susceptible to abuse of such powers.

For example, in the United States of America, just like Nigeria, where there is more than one law enforcement agency, the FIU is located in the Department of Treasury/Finance. This is to separate the functions of intelligence collection from police duties (investigation) and judicial functions (prosecution), lest there will be over concentration of powers and abuse of such powers.

Similarly, countries such as Canada, Australia, Belgium and France have their FIUs located in their respective Ministries of Finance.

Of all the 14 countries in West Africa with an FIU, Nigeria is the only jurisdiction that currently domiciles its FIU in a law enforcement agency – EFCC, even when it is registered as an administrative-type FIU. This is a misnomer. Ten of the West African countries have their FIUs domiciled in their respective Ministries of Finance, while two others have theirs domiciled in Central Banks and one in Ministry of Justice.

The surest way out of the country’s present quagmire is the enactment of a law that grants autonomy to the NFIU. This is the exact thing the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency/Centre Bill presently being considered by the National Assembly seeks to achieve.

The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre Bill will ensure that the NFIU is not tied to any agency but will have adequate measures to build an independent financial intelligence system.

The Bill seeks to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Centre as the central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating financial and other related information to all law enforcement, security agencies and other relevant authorities, as well as exchange of intelligence with over 150 FIUs globally.

NFIC is to serve all law enforcement agencies, regulators and other authorized agencies (EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NDLEA, CBN, CUSTOMS, POLICE, NAPTIP, CBN etc) and domiciling it in any of the interested agencies/parastatals will mean giving undue advantage to one over the others.

In Ghana, the FIU has an independent board and Executive Director. It is located under the Ministry of Finance. In Gambia, the FIU is located in the Central Bank; while in Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo, it is located under the Ministry of Finance.

More so, the mandate of an FIU is different from that of law enforcement; while law enforcement agencies carry out investigations and also prosecute, FIUs do not.

Nigeria opted for an administrative FIU when it registered with the Egmont group in 2007. Having registered an administrative FIU, the operations have to be outside a law enforcement agency.

Majority of the administrative FIU types all over the world are administrative and none, apart from Nigeria is domiciled in a law enforcement centre. They are mostly domiciled in the Ministry of Finance, Justice or Central Bank.

In addition, it is a misnomer to have an independent Board for the proposed Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre within an EFCC that has a Board with an Executive Chairman. It will not work, as there will be conflict. There cannot be an independent Board within a parastatal.

Also, it is always best to separate the functions of intelligence collection from Police duties so as to avoid overconcentration of powers and the natural consequence of abuse. NFIC as being contemplated today will address inter agency rivalry.

It is on record that Nigeria applied for membership of the Financial Action Task Force and the FATF assessment team is expected in Nigeria in November, 2017, and without the NFIC law in operation, Nigeria cannot be admitted. The country remains disconnected from the secured Web of the Egmont group of FIUs. Only a truly independent FIU can guarantee a way forward for the country.

In the light of the international obligations and standards imposed by various international instruments, to which Nigeria has acceded to, it is imperative that steps are taken to properly define and establish the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre, by clearly defining its mandates in the law.

As the National Assembly deliberates on the NFIC Bill, stakeholders must jettison every form of sentiment and support the move to align Nigeria with international best practices, especially, at this critical period of terrorism, which financing is mainly done through money laundering.

Only a truly independent Financial Intelligence Centre can address the country’s security challenges through effective money laundering and terrorist financing checks.

Civil Society, Media and all sectors of the country’s economy must join the crusade to save the country by strengthening the legal framework against corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

All hands must be on deck!

Dr Walter Duru is a Public Affairs analyst; Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption- MIIVOC and Chairman, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria- FOICN and can be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com

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. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Registration Requirements For Business Entities In Nigeria

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Successful Small Business

By Benita Ayo

Registering a business venture is oftentimes the best and wisest move an entrepreneur should always take before launching out. The reason for this is not far-fetched.

In most situations, when an entrepreneur fails to register his business prior to its commencement, the desired business name may become subject to disapproval whenever he chooses to register the business at a later date.

This is one reason why it is strongly advised that a business undergoes the necessary registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Let it be known that it is never enough to simply register a business and retreat. There are still things the law expects a business owner to do after registration of a business with the CAC.

For instance, every business entity, such as (Limited Liability Company (Public or Private), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), Limited Partnership (LP), Business Name (BN), Incorporated Trustees (IT) etc, are all expected to file the Annual Returns of their businesses on or before the 30th June of each fiscal year. Failure to do this attracts penalties for default.

In extreme circumstances, where a business entity has failed to file its Annual Returns for consecutive years, the entity’s profile with the Corporate Registry will be deemed inactive.

In sum, while most business entities continue to transact their businesses unabated, a check on their profiles at the Corporate Registry will reveal that such businesses are, in truth, inactive.

A company whose Corporate Profile is ‘inactive’ is on the watch list of the CAC for de-listing.

You may contact me via the under-listed channels for further consultations on the following services;

  • Business/Company Registrations
  • Annual Returns filing
  • Re-activation of ‘inactive’ corporate profiles
  • Corporate Profile search etc.

WhatsApp: +2348063775768

Email: jaybella120@gmail.com

Benita Ayo is a Seasoned Corporate Commercial Counsel with over nine years of post-call experience. She has handled myriads of briefs in Corporate/Commercial, Employment Law as well as Property Transactional Practice.

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Checkmating The LGBT Incursion In African Politics: The Nigerian Case Study And Consequences

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LGBT

By Kwame lbrahim

The number of Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria, though largely undocumented officially, has continued to rise exponentially, especially among teenagers, youths and adults.

According to several projects related to fact-finding research and spontaneous polls conducted in some institutions of higher learning and amongst clusters of young people in social media groups and platforms, this is common everywhere but more pronounced in cities of Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Abuja, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Kaduna and Owerri.

This is even spreading all over the country at a growing rate despite the legal statutes and social responses, which have clearly red-flagged the queer preference and defined homosexuality as illegal in Nigeria and punishable by up to 14 years of prison in the conventional court system.

Nigeria is a largely conservative country, and the very Western proclivity towards openly embracing gay rights and LGBT penchants are deemed not only as anathema but also an unacceptable negation and disrespect for the very foundation on the mores and decency which its cultural, religious, traditional and secular communal existence have been built and have continued to thrive over the years.

As Nigeria evolves into a more post-modern and more globalized society, credible findings have revealed that the fundamental threat that this surge in queer attitude poses for its secularity is disturbingly manifest in the deliberate and determined effort by LGBT advocates to take over the political, legislative process in its 2023 elections.

The basic aim of such financiers is to subsequently secure sufficient representatives in its National Assembly to push for and promulgate the law legalising and legitimizing homosexuality.

In the past, such an attempt was resisted by communities in Kenya through the support of community leaders and its government, but the Nigerian situation seems different because of the present unholy silence that has greeted many aspirants for senatorial and House of Representative positions of some political parties that have well known LGBT sympathizers and practitioners as their candidates.

This is indeed a worrisome phenomenon which, if allowed to become a reality, will not only erode the very fabric of Nigeria’s original existential identity but would dangerously affect the acceptable balance of decency and straight relationship, which have been the hallmarks of a majority of traditional families in Nigeria and Africa.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria society will be confronted with dire consequences if this queer LGBT advocacy gains traction in its National Assembly, especially when such a law would embolden the gays and lesbians to openly challenge and even violently rubbish any real or perceived rational and normal counter-argument against this quite uncharacteristic behaviour in its society.

Furthermore, there is no doubt whatsoever that a law legitimizing LGBT tendencies would result in uncontrolled homophobia, which will radically disrupt peaceful existence and dislocate many straight people, who will be subjected to unprovoked assaults by those gloating to endorse the new legislation on the streets, schools, bars and restaurants, churches and other places where the need to impose the law would be deemed necessary and patriotic.

This sad intent through politics by introducing and sponsoring LGBT members into the National Legislative System of Africa’s most populous Nation will, of course, come at a great social, existential cost and unleash in its wake major destructive consequences to all African societies, the Nigerian nation and most developing communities of the world.

Against the backdrop of an anticipated backlash of violent and berserk orgies of unprovoked violence by members of the LGBT community, who had hitherto felt constrained, the need to sensitise the general public through the various channels of communication becomes highly recommended and inevitable, especially in recognition of the fact that this behaviour and the attendant defensive fightback, will definitely escalate if such is not checked at this 2023 election period in Nigeria.

All well-meaning Nigerians must act swiftly at this point of the electoral and voting process, where all the gains already achieved from the existing bill prohibiting and stipulating penalties for such queer practices can be reversed if they allow the pro-gay and LGBT sympathizers to dominate the National Assembly with their presence as elected Representatives as they would have a voice on the floors of the two parliaments to destroy its moral standards and religious beliefs.

The accommodation, maturity, peaceful, harmonious coexistence and decency which exist in Nigerian society would all be eroded once the legislation to legalise same-sex and LGBT relationships are achieved. A stitch in time saves nine. This is a time for community, traditional and religious leaders to speak up. This is the time for the electorate to grow in proper awareness of the consequences of making inappropriate choices.

Already, findings from credible investigations conducted to ascertain the next strategic ploy by the Queer community to accomplish the deliberate agenda of forcing legislation that would favour their cause indicate that the LGBT community in Nigeria has set its target at producing twenty House of Representative members from four states, namely: Sokoto, Kano, Rivers and Lagos, during the 2023 election.

In states where party tickets could not be secured in the two major political parties, sympathetic aspirants were sponsored with huge amounts of funding to join fresh parties with the clear intent to attract followers, which is a major catalyst for political mobilisation in a country like Nigeria.

Specifically, Kano, Lagos and Rivers states are said to have recorded huge success for this aspiration. However, the extent to which these plans work out would largely depend on the acceptance or rejection of these aspirants by the level of awareness created for the voting public, especially through their leaders.

Kwame lbrahim, PhD, is from the African Research Institute and Doctoral School of Safety & Security Services, Budapest, Hungary

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Buying Naira with Naira, Rantings And Musings

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the new Naira notes

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

Under pressure we wail under pressure, under pressure black people under pressure, under pressure Nigerians under pressure. No food in we belly, no money in ah we pocket, no bed we lay we head.

The people dem are suffer, in ah ghetto, in ah city, everywhere dah me go oh, me see them, some are cry, some are die, some are weeping! Some are wailing! Everywhere dah oh eh. Under pressure we wail under pressure, under pressure everybody under pressure, Ras Kimono Under Pressure

You see the Nigerian looks upon Nigeria as a theatre and the entire population representing and manifesting the full spectrum of acts and actors. In this revelry, life is the theatre; the nation is the stage upon which we perform. The politicians and a few of us are the actors, very often mediocre. When stars appear, it is more often because a play must have a star rather than because the player is possessed of some dramatic genius. We saw it with Obasanjo, we saw it with Mr Yar’adua, and with the shoeless one, we are seeing it with the soon-to-end Mr Buhari. We falter and we muff our lines; sometimes our performance takes on an aspect of the grotesque-nobody takes this seriously because it is perceived as being the nature of the play. Our people become the audience.

I once watched with bemusement a deaf and dumb boy who caught his mom with a stranger in bed. When his father came home, the poor young boy was at a loss on how to communicate his discovery. After several futile attempts, the boy ceased trying. The father, on the other hand, patted him, walked into the bedroom and was scolding the wife, he asked her why she was sick, rolling on the bed and could not call for help from the neighbours or the family doctor.

I am not going to talk about the currency redesign brouhaha, because as good a policy as it supposedly is, again, it has exposed the gross behavioural nature of some Nigerians. The central bank, the commercial banks, the bankers, the PoS Operators and the general populace are guilty of varying degrees of culpability.

And, then the fuel palaver, the same one that once upon a time Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said: “This is the winter period. There is always more demand for refined products from petroleum during winter in colder countries. This is what we are experiencing now.” Today, I guess it is winter in those places again. And at the black market, the usual trend, is certainly high petrol prices, unavailable and weak Naira, low minimum wage and increasing poverty.

Legislators are neither here nor there; governors’ are not sure where they stand. In all the noise the product disappears. Transportation fare increases, food prices skyrocket…a nation that has a disconnect between the ruled and its rulers, like the deaf and dumb boy, his mother, the stranger and his father.

The fact is, our currency wahala, and fuel palaver are not the government’s problem. What are we really subsidising? Is it the high cost of energy or unavailable petroleum products? Nigerians are tired, hungry and not in protest mode. There’s no fuel scarcity but fuel criminality because leadership lacks the will.

Where are the refineries promised, all gone with the wind called Turn Around Maintenance! There is no PMS in the fuel station, but unregistered marketers/blackmarkers all have the commodity… a continued rationalisation and justification of absurdities like a commentator put it. It is even more disheartening when the intellectual effort and voice of elites are at the heart of such theatricals due to ethnoreligious cleavages birthed by economic disenfranchisement.

Our major problem is the lack of leadership manifesting itself in every facet of our human endeavours. Some of these areas may be fixable in future if we get the right people with the right policies but how do you fix the future of the mass population of our children who are not getting educated today?

The future of Nigeria is bright, and interesting but scary if we reflect on it. Teachers are illiterate; students can’t go to school because schools are closed down, and alternatives are unaffordable, the change is bleak…

The fuel management chain is a lucrative cankerworm of corruption, our banking system is not exactly different, a serious government can yet tackle it, it’s beyond committees and white papers. It’s action; only action can stop the rot. Nigerians can, I believe we can but we don’t know that we can, and doubt if we are ready.

The reason is simple…we are not just part of the problem, in some cases, we are the problem, when Sunny Okunsun sang;

Which way Nigeria, which way to go? I love my fatherland, o yeah, I want to know; Yes, I want to know. I love my fatherland, which Nigeria is heading to? Many years after independence, we still find it hard to start. How long shall we be patient still we reach the promised land? Let’s save Nigeria, so Nigeria won’t die. Which way Nigeria? Every little thing that goes wrong, we start to blame the government. We know everything that goes wrong, we are part of the government.

Which way Nigeria is heading to? Inefficiency and indiscipline is ruining the country now; corruption here there and everywhere, inflation is very high. We make mistakes in the oil boom, not knowing that was our doom. Some people now have everything, while some have nothing. Which way Nigeria, which way to go?

I end with this encounter, a politician was charged with profanity for calling an opponent a bastard: the politician retorted, “When I call him s.o.b I am not using profanity. I am only referring to the circumstances of his birth”. What is the circumstance of the birth of Nigeria, can anything be done to bring destiny and fate to conjure up some good for us all?

The elites are having a field day, but with each fleeting moment, three facts of life beckon, the rising of the sun, the setting of the moon and truth, only time will tell.

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