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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday admitted that lack of adequate funding of the agency by the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration was affecting its fight against corruption in the country.
The Secretary of EFCC, Mr. Emmanuel Adegboyega, raised the alarm in Abuja while briefing the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, at a public hearing on the bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency.
This came as a confirmation of The PUNCH’s October 16, 2013 story, which revealed that the EFCC was so broke that it could not pay its lawyers and meet its other obligations.
Adegboyega told the Senate panel led by Senator Victor Lar that despite several appeals for fund, “the commission have been further starved of funds to finance its operations.”
He lamented that the EFCC was currently broke with only less than N2m in its account.
He said, “I could recollect when the committee paid us (EFCC) an oversight visit and I did make our financial position known to the committee. As at now, EFCC does not have N2m in its account. We don’t have money.
“We (EFCC) have been complaining that no money has been released to us for operations. As at now, we don’t have up to N2m. If we can afford to pay salary this month, that is all. That is the position under which we operate.”
Adegboyega, however, kicked against the creation of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency.
He said the NFIA should remain a “secret” agency under an existing anti-corruption agency.
The EFCC secretary also faulted the “regulatory” powers granted the proposed NFIA.
Adegboyega said, “The Financial Intelligence Agency if independent with enabling laws, will be exploited by corrupt persons to open a floodgate of injunctions, restraining orders and other litigation to stall anti-corruption trials. The bill is unnecessary and we should jettison it.”
However, the Central Bank of Nigeria supported the establishment of the NFIA but requested that section 6(g) of the proposed bill should be deleted.
The Director, Legal Services of CBN, Mr. Amusa Ogundana, who said this when canvassing the position of the apex bank on the proposed establishment of the NFIA, said section 6 (g) was on the “supervisory” function provided for in the proposed bill.
He said the section was a breach of the Money Laundering Act.
Meanwhile, other stakeholders, like the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission; the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other related Matters; the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and the National Intelligence Agency, supported the creation of the NFIA.
It will be recalled that members of the Senate had last Thursday expressed divided opinions on the bill which sought to create a centre for the purpose of independently conducting intelligence investigations into financial crimes in the country.
The bill proposes the establishment of the financial intelligence agency as the central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating financial intelligence reports and other information to the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies.
It was presented separately as an executive and a private member bill by the duo of the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma -Egba and Senator Victor Lar.
The separate presentations were however harmonised because they both sought to achieve similar objectives, which was enhancing financial intelligence in the country.