Nigeria is on the verge of having its membership in the Egmont Group revoked with the said removal taking place between the 2nd and 7th of March 2018 during a meeting with the Egmont Group and Heads of the Financial Intelligence Units. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires in Argentina.
In July 2017, Egmont Group a global network comprising of 152 Financial Intelligence Units suspended Nigeria following a vote by members of the group during Egmont’s 24th conference in Macao, SAR.
The group gave the reason for its decision based on the fact that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Ibrahim Magu had been revealing confidential and highly sensitive information to the media while according to the group also engaged in blackmail tactics against persons linked to such classified financial information in EFCC’s possession.
Such actions taken by the EFCC has been held to be meddlesome and capable of rendering the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit dependent on EFCC a development which makes heads at Egmont uncomfortable as the stipulated Law regulating FIU’s states that FIU must go about their duties independently and without any kind of external interference.
“The Heads of FIU made a decision, by consensus, to suspend the membership status of the NFIU, Nigeria, following repeated failures on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information,specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report( STR) details and information derived from international exchanges , as well as concerns on the legal basis and clarity of the NFIU’s independence from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC_. The measure will remain in force until immediate corrective actions are implemented.” said the Egmont Group
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was accused of supporting Magu’s impunity has set up an ad hoc committee to restructure the NFIU and restore Nigeria’s membership in the NFIU. The EFCC through its Secretary Emmanuel Aremo said on the issue EFCC was in a better position to ensure the NFIU was not hijacked by undue political influence.
Nigeria who became a member of the Egmont Group in 2007 after several attempts over the years during Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency has a lot to lose if expelled such as Nigerian banks being banned from issuing MasterCard and Visa credit or debit cards while Nigerians will not be allowed to conduct foreign transactions.
More worrisome is the effect such expulsion will have on the Buhari administration recovering looted funds in overseas banks as the country stands to face a lack of financial intelligence necessary to achieve that agenda.