After several denials, the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit finally admitted on Monday that the letter asking legislators and judicial officers to acquaint it of their bank account details indeed emanated from it.
The NFIU, however, attributed it to an officer who “was obviously unacquainted with the fact that the NFIU already had access to such information through its database.”
In a statement endorsed by its Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko, the agency nonetheless noted that it has the major responsibility, in accordance with global standards, to maintain and regularly update the list of Politically Exposed Persons.
According to the statement, since a new government was inaugurated in May 2019, it became necessary to update the list of politically exposed persons.
It said: “The officer who initiated the unauthorized letter, was also taking the initiative to update the PEPs list.
“This list includes politicians and political appointees in all organs of government.
“The update exercise which is a regular practice in order to protect public funds and other assets is also in accordance with global best practice.”
NFIU restated in the statement that the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chief Justice of the Federation were not under any investigation.
It added that in the same vein, Senators, members of the House of Representatives, justices and other members of the judiciary “are not under investigation by the NFIU.”
While promising to investigate how the letter, which was yet to be authorised, was leaked to the public, NFIU explained that the entire country “is just a co-signatory with other 164 members of the FIU processes.
“Having been aware that the leaked letter was not subjected to the appropriate level of authorisation before transmission, the NFIU has commenced an investigation to unravel the persons and the factors that led to the inadvertent circumvention of our internal process in this isolated case with a view to applying appropriate sanctions as deterrence.”
Dikko also frowned at the politicization of the incident accusing those “who seem to be favourable to government” of “creating the wrong impression that the opposition is using the NFIU, those in the opposition seem to be speaking through some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and insinuating that Government is using the NFIU to its political advantage.
“Both positions are not only untrue but patently unimaginable.”
It would be recalled that NFIU issued a statement last Friday denying the letter, while Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, also denied it while speaking with journalists on Sunday.