The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, on Monday in Abuja said that the House was determined to check corruption in Nigeria.
Tambuwal made the pledge at a public hearing on a bill to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency, organised by the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes.
The bill seeks to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency as the central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating financial and other information to law enforcement and security agencies.
Tambuwal said: “The House of Representatives of the Seventh Assembly is fully determined to do everything possible to check the haemorrhage of our national resources.
“We must make sure that the people we represent benefit from the democratic system they have sacrificed so much to make possible.”
Tambuwal said that the country had witnessed the consequences of the reckless and cavalier manner that public officials and civil servants manage public funds.
He said that billions of Naira got missing in the country every year as a result of mismanagement and outright theft of money belonging to Nigerians.
The speaker said that this level of financial impunity was possible because of dubious accounting procedures and the lack of a specialised agency.
Tambuwal said that the establishment of the agency would create a harmonious inter-agency relationship between various inter-related organisations.
In a remark, Hon. Adams Jagaba (PDP-Kaduna), the Chairman, Drugs Narcotics and Financial Crimes, said that the bill, if passed, would curb money laundering and terrorism.
“In essence, the bill seeks to provide legislation for an institution responsible for generating and dispensing information on money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crimes,” Jagaba said.
He said that the prevailing institutional arrangement, which placed the National Financial Intelligence Unit as a department under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was an aberration and not in consonance with international best practices.
The legislator said the bill was an attempt to rectify glaring deficiency and further enhance confidence on the Nigeria’s financial climate.
He said that it was just recently the Financial Action Task-Force deleted Nigeria from its list of “high risk countries”.
Jagaba urged all stakeholders to give the bill every necessary support in order to sustain and improve on its current international rating.
He said: “I wish to state that the creation of NFIA as an independent body with a clearly defined mandate does not in any way entail additional financial burden on the nation.
“This bill will entrench transparency in financial undertakings and serve as impetus for enhancing the present administration’s transformation agenda.”
All stakeholders at the hearing supported the bill, except the EFCC, which was conspicuously absent.
They include the ICPC, NDLEA, CBN, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and the National Intelligence Agency.
Others are the Department of State Security, SEC, NICOM and the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force among others.