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Nigerian Senate Passes Investigative And Forensic Auditors Bill

The cost of crimes require a lot to quantify. Crimes such as cyber attacks and fraud, tax fraud, false insurance claims, money laundering, kickbacks, bogus invoices and accountant fraud have negative impact on a country’s economy.

When financial related crimes are committed, documents are created which record and preserve the financial transactions which in turn become the raw evidence used in forensic accounting.
The deployment of fingerprints and DNA in forensic crime scene investigations is similar to the documents used to identify the who, what, where, when, and how of the financial crimes that have occurred.

Also read:Enhancing Nigeria’s Criminal Justice System Through forensic Investigations

In Nigeria, the EFCC and ICPC are the agencies empowered to identify and prosecute financially related and corrupt crimes. The fight and prosecution of financially related crimes and corrupt practices cannot be successful if the required resources are not provided.

Paramount among these resources is the enactment of enabling laws that makes the prosecution of financial and crimes more easy without needless ambiguities.

Next is, employment of adequately trained personnel with diverse specialties in tandem with the various types of crimes committed involving money. These staff though trained should receive continuous training to outwit corrupt persons and financial criminals who tend to devise new methods of ‘beating the system’.




 

Of what use is a farmer who goes to his farm without his tools? Little. We should not expect much from crime fighters if they are not provided with the right kind of tools no matter their level of expertise. The provision of adequately equipped crimelabs stocked with state-of-the-art gadgets and instruments is most needed to effectively fight and solve corrupt and financial crimes in Nigeria.

In the aspect of qualifying financial crimes investigation, investigative auditors and forensic experts are the major players. For several years, ICAN has been the primary professional body backed by law to train certified accountants in the country. Possessing an ICAN certification has been the badge of honour that distinguishes the chartered accountant from other accountants. Besides ICAN, other accounting related bodies have emerged with additional functionalities which may seen poised to challenge ICAN for purpose and duties.

Only recently, the Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors of Nigeria  jointly sponsored by Sen. Ahmed Lawan, the Senate Majority Leader and Sen. Andy Uba was passed by the upper chamber. The Bill has been sent to the National House of Representatives for passage as well.




The President, Chartered Institute of Investigative and Forensic Auditors (CIFIA) Dr Victoria Enape, praised the Senate over the passage of the CIFIA Bill. She said that the Association “is a profound genre of anti-fraud professionals, whose academic background cuts across accounting, law, criminology, cyber security, banking, economics, and police detectives”. She further stated that “Forensic auditing integrates investigative skills in order to resolve or expose concealed or suspected financial fraud.’’

Dr Enape also said that the Bill, if passed, “will help Nigeria to have skilled professionals to deepen the fraud prevention, detection and preserve money in government treasury for infrastructural development that is fast disappearing in our country today”.

Understandably, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) rejected the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors(CIFIA) Bill, 2018.

ICAN President, Mr. Razak Jaiyeola noted that the “functions and responsibilities in the proposed Bills for Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria (CIFIA) and Chartered Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria (CIFA) are already contained in the 1965 Act that established ICAN”.




It is interesting to note that ICAN besides rejecting the bill passed by the Senate, also condemned the section 18 of the Forensic Accountants Bill that criminalizes and imposes fine on practicing forensic accountants before the enactment of the bill.

He further condemned the imposition of a fine of N50,000 and N100,000 respectively or two years imprisonment against ICAN members, who had already been practicing forensic accounting before the inception of this bill.

But in an effort to allay fears of ICAN, the CIFIA’s Pro-term President, Dr Enape, explained that CIFIA should not be seen as a rival to ICAN, just as CIFIA is not seen as a rival to ANAN. “Nothing stops an accountant from becoming a member of ICAN and CIFIA or any other professional body for that matter”, she stressed.

Also read : The Role of Forensic Research for National Development

During the public hearing before passage of the Bill, the then ICAN president Mr Zakari urged the senate to discard the Bill on the basis of duplicity of functions. He stressed that “Forensic accounting is adequately covered within the scope of the training that ICAN provides and therefore, the quest for a separate Institute for just Forensic accounting is totally uncalled for”.

But Mrs Enape, President for CIFIA had clarified during public hearings for the Bill, that because no law was backing Forensic Accountants, there members were not allowed to practice in the country.




It seems the Bill enjoys ministerial backing with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, expressing optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari would assent the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria (CIFIA) Bill should it get to his table.

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