Governors of the 36 states of the Federation have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to order over funds allocated to all Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country.
They made the plea in a statement by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the Head of Media and Public Affairs at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Secretariat.
The governors said the agency was dabbling into a matter that was beyond its mandate.
Chairman of the NGF and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, signed off a letter in which members condemned what they termed an attempt by the NFIU to ridicule their collective integrity.
They described the decision of the agency as a “total disregard for the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.”
The NFIU was excised from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and had set June 1 as the take-off date of the new order, making it compulsory for all LGA allocations to go straight to their respective bank accounts
But the NGF chairman condemned the decision in its letter dated May 15th, 2019, and titled ‘Re: NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawal from Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria Effective June 1st, 2019.’
He drew the attention of the President to section (6) (a) and (b) which confers on the States and National Assemblies the powers to make provisions for statutory allocation of Public revenue to the Local Councils in the Federation and within the states respectively.
He added that Section 162 (6) expressly provides for the creation of the States Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) into which shall be paid, all allocations to the LGAs of the State from the Federation Account and from the government of the state.
Governor Yari stressed that nothing in the NFIU Act has given the body the powers to exercise in the guidelines that it released.
He insisted that the agency was acting in excess of its powers and by so doing, “NFIU exhibits complete disregard of the constitution of Nigeria.”
The NGF Chairman also accused the NFIU of “stoking mischief and also deliberately seeking to cause disaffection, chaos and overheat the polity.”
He explained that Local Government Councils were a creation of the constitution and not financial institutions.
The governors added that the councils were not reporting entities and not under the NFIU in the manner contemplated by the agency’s guidelines.
They, however, asked the NFIU to concentrate on its core mandate of anti-money laundering activities and combatting financing terrorism, as prescribed in the Act establishing it.
The Forum also demanded that the agency desists 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 (CBN).