1st February, 2022.
House Committee on Finance,
House of Representatives,
National Assembly Complex,
Three Arms Zone
RE: INVITATION TO SUBMIT MEMORANDA AND ATTEND PUBLIC HEARING ON A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS OF NIGERIA ACT 1965 AND FOR RELATED MATTERS (HB 1178).
Our attention has been drawn to a notice of Public Hearing on the above-mentioned amendment Bill, which was held on Wednesday, 2nd February, 2022 at the Conference Hall 0.28, House of Representatives, New Building, National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
Honourable Chairman, first and foremost, we wish to state that it is trite to amend an act, which was enacted in 1965 to be precise. This amendment may be necessary because of emerging trend in the global world, as most of its provisions may have become obsolete and require some levels of innovation to meet up with global standards and realities of modern time. However, such amendment should be done within the contemplation of the existing Act, without interloping or delving into another field or an area that is considered to be outside the scope of their operations, which have been succinctly captured and contemplated in other proposed law, which has scaled through all legislative hurdles.
We have gone through the contents of the proposed amendments and we are constrained to make some salient observations on the Bill before the Committee, in the overall interest of the country and indeed, to ensure compliance and strict adherence to legislative practice, rules and procedures in line with global best practices.
Firstly, we observed that the new amendment tends to provide for the practice and regulation of Forensics and other related areas in Forensics. As the Hon. Chairman may be well aware, the Bill for an Act to Establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria for Effective Regulation, Registration of Members and Determination of What Standard Knowledge and Skills to be Attained by Persons seeking to become Registered Members and Qualify to Practice as Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB. 791) was passed by the House of Representatives on the 19th May, 2021. Thereafter, the Bill was also passed by the Senate. Accordingly, in view of the Bi-cameral nature of the National Assembly, areas of differences noticed in the versions of the Bill, as passed, were resolved by Conference Committee set up by the two Chambers. Consequently, the Bill was sent to Mr President for Presidential Assent, which is still being awaited at the moment. Therefore, it is our concerted view that it would amount to duplication if this amendment Bill is passed by the House, as new Bill cannot be used to superimpose itself on another piece of legislation, which is already at its final stage of being enacted as an Act of the National Assembly.
Secondly, I wish to place on record that when our Bill, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals Bill was presented before the National Assembly for consideration, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), vehemently opposed its passage on the ground that its 1965 Act provided for the practice of Forensics. This position was further reiterated by a sponsored publications by ICAN, through the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria, led by Engr.(Chief) Olumuyiwa Alade on the 24th May, 2019, wherein frantic efforts were made to say that ICAN under its enabling laws is empowered to practice Forensics. As such, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill should not be passed. However, we were taken aback when ICAN now turned around to seek amendment to incorporate the practice of Forensics in the extant Act. The question now is, what has changed?
On this note, Hon. Chairman, we make bold to state that the amendment proposed by ICAN is misconceived, misplaced and ill-willed and would not serve the interest of the generality of Nigerians, neither will it in any way, advance and protect the integrity of the Legislature, rather it tends to make mockery of the entire process of Legislative practice and procedure.
Finally, it is on the above grounds that we are praying this Committee and indeed, the House of Representatives not to pass this Bill, as it will amount to unnecessary duplication of law and aberration of Legislative process. We say this because ICAN cannot by itself be approbating and reprobating at the same time. Their current efforts can be perceived as trying to come through the back door to hijack an already existing practice. Consequent upon the above, we urge the Committee to look beyond sentiments and critically look at the duplicity of the law, if this amendment sails through. We are particularly concerned on the clauses that have to do with the practice of Forensics. We appreciate the Committee for this opportunity to canvass our opinion on this proposed Bill.
Accept the assurance of our warm regards.
By Dr Mrs Enape Victoria Ayishetu, PhD, FCFP, FCNA, FCTI, CFE, MNIM, CPFM