The House of Representatives has expressed support for the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) over the agency’s request for details of bank accounts belonging to members of the National Assembly, judiciary and politically exposed persons.
The Reps further explained that such information is necessary for an institution like the NFIU to function efficiently.
Officers affected in the probe include the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. Also included are principal officers and members of the House of National Assembly.
The probe by the NFIU will also include accounts owned by Nigerian judges, including Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad.
1st News reported that the NFIU had written to all banks in the country. The agency had requested the banking information of the affected persons, in a letter dated September 10, 2019.
The letter was signed by the NFIU’s Associate Director, Analysis and Compliance, Fehintola Salisu. Further, it gave the banks up till September 13 (Friday) to comply with the directive.
However, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, has described the directive of the NFIU to the banks as an invasion of privacy.
He made this disclosure in an interview on Saturday.
Equally important, Senator Adeyeye is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs.
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He noted that most senators were already established individuals with flourishing businesses before they contested and won election into the red chamber.
However, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, noted that that other agencies depend on NFIU for such information.
Kalu said, “I am aware that they have access to all account details and, as such, should not be asking for such. The NFIU Establishment Act allows them access to all bank details.
‘‘Your bank details and mine are the tools they work with when the need arises and denying them such access amounts to opening them up for an inefficient outing.
“I am also aware that Ahmed Dikko, the Chief Media Analyst of NFIU has attempted clearing the air on this. According to him, such letter of demand for bank details did not emanate for them and should be disregarded.”
The Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Peter Akpatason, who spoke to our correspondent on Friday, also said it was a routine process by security and intelligence agencies, adding that there was no big deal about it.
Akpatason said, “I am not aware (of it) but I think it is a routine thing that they do. I don’t think there is any big deal about it. It is a normal thing. Ideally, they should have the account details of business people, politicians and others.
“I do not think it is targeted at any particular person. It is a routine thing they are doing and they have the right to do it.”