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Demand from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to be Autonomous has been considered by the National Assembly, as they jointly passed a bill to support the motion on Wednesday March 7, 2018.

The Bill was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

At the House of Representatives, members in plenary, simply adopted the recommendations of the report at a session presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun.

Ahead of its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between March 11 and March 16, Nigeria is expected to make NFIU independent in order to avoid expulsion.

The bill if assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari will make the NFIU independent of EFCC within which it is now domiciled.

Ekweremadu commended Utazi and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Kayode Oladele, for putting aside their differences and presenting a harmonised report.

According to him, the passage was to ensure that Nigeria's suspension from EGMONT group does not translate to expulsion.

It will be recalled that Nigeria is now 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.

By the provisions of the EFCC Act, the anti-graft agency more or less performs the functions of the NFIU and the latter does not enjoy autonomy.

Until now, the agency has operated under Nigeria's state Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Before now, it was gathered that Egmont suspended NFIU because EFCC, was allegedly leaking sensitive information to the media.

Oladele noted that though Nigeria now had an independent NFIU, he feared that it might be a "toothless bulldog" having no power to bite.

"Hence, today's passage of the Conference Committee Report of the Bill is aimed at ensuring that we comply with worldwide best practices, so that we will be able to access the financial intelligence data of the EGMONT Group".

The bill also provides that the head of the unit should be called a director and that the appointment of the director should be subject to Senate confirmation.

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