Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2019

LG funds: Govs Forum urges Buhari to caution NFIU

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By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

Governors of the 36 states of the federation, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, have dragged the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) before President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to caution the Unit from dabbling into a matter that is beyond its mandate.
The governors expressed their dismay and angst at what they tagged the “brazen attempt by the NFIU to ridicule our collective integrity and show total disregard for the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended”.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, which was excised from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, it will be recalled, had set June 1, 2019, as the take off date of the new order, making it compulsory for all LGA allocations to go straight to their respective bank accounts for their funds.
The decision was contained in a guideline released by the NFIU after a lengthy meeting with officials of commercial banks in Abuja.
However, the NGF, in a letter titled Re: NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawal from Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria Effective June 1st, 2019, signed by its Chairman and governor of Zamfara State, Hon. Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, frowned seriously at the directive.The NGF’s letter is dated May 15th, 2019
The 36 governors have consequently approached the President Buhari on the decision on the matter, accusing the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) of dabbling into a matter that is beyond its mandate.
The governors, in their letter to President Buhari, expressed “dismay and angst at this brazen attempt by the NFIU to ridicule our collective integrity and show total disregard for the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended’.
The NGF Chairman,in the letter, emphasised that nothing in the NFIU Act 2018 gives the body the powers that it seeks to exercise in the guidelines that it released and is therefore acting in excess of its powers and by so doing,, “NFIU exhibits complete disregard of the constitution of Nigeria”.
The NGF Chairman further accused the NFIU of “stoking mischief and also deliberately seeking to cause disaffection, chaos and overheat the polity.”
The NGF pointed out that Local Government Councils are a creation of the constitution and are not financial institutions.
The LGAs, according to governors, are “not reporting entities and are therefore not under the NFIU in the manner contemplated by the NFIU’s so-called guidelines”
The NGF added, “In principle, the NFIU should concentrate on its core mandate of anti-money laundering AML activities and combatting financing terrorism CTF as prescribed in the Act establishing it and should desist from encroaching on or even breaching constitutional provisions.
“The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) is the Nigerian arm of the global financial intelligence Units (FIUs) once domiciled within the EFCC, but now for the purpose of institutional location domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria. “This means the NFIU is only mandated to trace or track laundered money that finds its way into terrorism financing and report such to the nation’s security agencies.
“The NFIU should seek to comply with those standards on combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and its proliferation as stipulated and not dabble into matters that are both constitutional and beyond NFIU purview”, the governors maintained.

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