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Stakeholders Support Bill To Establish Chartered Institute Of Forensics And Certified Fraud Examiners Of Nigeria.

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Bill Sponsor Presents own Bill and Another to Pressmen to Allay Plygyrism Concerns

The Economic Crimes Commission ( EFCC), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria( ANAN) have, alongside other stakeholders in crime-fighting, Accounting and Investigations, supported the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria,saying the Institute will add value in the war against corruption, crime prevention and control.

The above followed a Public Hearing held at the House of Representatives, Thursday,in Abuja in respect of a Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria ( Establishment Bill,2021).

In a release made available to newsmen at the end of the Public Hearing, Nkem Anyata-Lafia,Media Adviser to the sponsor of the Bill,Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub ( Gombi/Hong, Adamawa State) said despite the reservations that were expressed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria ( ICAN) in their bid to hold on to what they considered a monopoly, majority of the stakeholders at the event were able to differentiate between the role of ICAN in relation to forensics and that of the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria,which has been in operation for ten years and was seeking the backing of the Legislature.

According to the Press Release:

“Speaking at the Public Hearing organised on the Bill, Thursday,at the National Assembly,Abuja,representatives of various public and private- sector organisations, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria( ANAN) ,the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit ( NFIU) as well as the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), expressed support for the Bill seeking to establish the Institute to deal with various crimes,offences and all manner of professional and social misgivings requiring in-depth investigations to turn in trusted results. The above-mentioned organisations,also,took time to address some of what they considered grey areas in the Sections of the proposed Act that,in their separate opinions,require changes.

“It was , however,a different scenario for the representative of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria ( ICAN),Dr. Innocent Okwuosa, a Second Vice President of the Institute,who maintained that what the Bill on the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners was seeking to achieve was already being practised by their own Organisation and other Agencies of Government like the Police,the EFCC,the ICPC and other such professional bodies whose corporate mandates and roles,he believed, would be threatened if the Bill in question was passed into law. He added the Bill also sought to criminalise other practitioners of forensics and posited that,ANAN was alongside ICAN,opposing the passage of the Forensic Institute Bill. This position was , however,refuted by the ANAN Registrar/ CEO,Nurudeen Abdullahi, in the presentation that came after that of the ICAN representative.

“While urging stakeholders to take a deeper look at the Bill seeking to give a legal backbone to the Institute,which has been in operation in the last ten years through which it has made appreciable impact for outstanding professionalism and diversity of specialisations,its Second Deputy President, Professor Suleiman Aruwa,said the nation would lose so much if it failed to harness the benefits of the multi- disciplinary outlook of the Institute. He expressed surprise that ICAN ,which only has Accountancy as its main competency and pre- occupation, would choose to challenge the right to existence of a body that has chosen to carry out the application of forensics on diverse areas of endeavour.

“Also speaking in support of the proposed Institute,its President and Chairman of Council, Iliyasu Gashinbaki,called for stakeholders’ support for the Bill,which he said had gone past the First and Second Readings in the House of Representatives before getting to the crucial stage of Public Hearing. He told the audience that the multi-disciplinary outlook of the Institute was one that offered the nation an alternative to travelling to other sister African countries and elsewhere and spending scarce resources to source solutions on forensic challenges in different fields.

“Earlier in his remarks,the sponsor of the Bill ,Rt.Hon.Yusuf Buba Yakub, said the Bill for which the Public Hearing was being held was one that “answers the clarion call on each of us to be a veritable gate- keeper and whistle-blower in order to preserve our nation beyond the greed, incompetence, slothfulness, negligence of duty and,of course,the usual mischief of some of our fellow Nigerians,whose failures,often resulting from mischief or poor approach to official duties and tasks, leave the nation at the mercy of their ineptitude or calculated wrong- doing”.

“Continuing the Gombi/ Hong , Adamawa State Rep,who is also the Chairman,House Committee on Foreign Affairs, added:
“This Bill seeks to, therefore,add serious impetus to the manner in which we fight the social malaise of our society,like crime in its entire ramifications, including official malfeasance,sleaze,Internet frauds and the like. Many things would change in society if people knew that no matter how smart they feel they can be in their doings,the torch of forensics on their acts will, eventually,give them away”, the lawmaker observed.

“While declaring that the proposed Institute when established would constitute no new burden on Government,Buba informed that its activities would be run and driven by contributions and subscriptions of its members and benefactors. He also added that,apart from providing for the regulation and control of the Institute’ s membership,the Bill when passed into law would also promote the profesional practice of fraud examination and forensics in Nigeria and complement, in that regard, the efforts of the nation’s law- enforcement/ prosecuting Agencies such as the EFCC,ICPC,NFIU and the Police through capacity-building and enhancement initiatives for public and private-sector professionals in the areas of fraud examination,fraud investigation as well as forensics,which will,in turn,save the Nigerian economy over Five Trillion Naira annually in funds arising from illicit financial flows.

“While declaring open the Public Hearing,Speaker ,House of Representatives,Rt.Hon.Femi Gbajabiamala, who was represented by the Deputy Leader of the House,Hon. Comrade Peter Akpatason,called for all stakeholders’ participation to realise the goal of checking fraud in Nigeria in line with the mindset of the Buhari Administration and the spirit of the Speaker’s Legislative Agenda ,which he said,he had set for the House when he assumed the position of Speaker in the current Legislative dispensation.

“On their own, Chairmen of the joint Committees on Anti- Corruption and Commerce Hon..Shehu Nicholas Garba and Hon. Femi Fakeye sued for co- operation from all stakeholders for a successful and rancour- free event. The above call was almost marred by the observation that Kayode Ajulo,SAN,who is the Principal Partner in a popular Abuja Law firm, and another public- interest group of lawyers were accused of separately signing the same document tendered to the joint Committees organising the Public Hearing. It was , however,amidst the above that another group,Charterd Institute of Forensics Investigative Professionals of Nigeria,represented by its Legal Adviser, Benjamin Sekpe, rose to allege that the Bill under consideration in the Public Hearing was a cloned version of their earlier Bill in the 8th Assembly,which failed to make it as law. This position was, however, vehemently, challenged by the members of the joint Committees,who insisted that there was no way such a cloned copy could have scaled the eagle- eyed attention and meticulous processes and scrutiny of the Business and Rules Committee of the House that had brought the Bill to the stage of the Public Hearing.

“To dispel the issue of cloning a previous Bill,the sponsor of the Bill that had just undergone Public Hearing,Rt. Hon Buba addressed the Press and presented the copies of the two Bills in question for the independent scrutiny of the members of the Press,who, consequently, ascertained that the copies of the two Bills were grossly different in words and structure”,the Release concluded.

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