OUR OBJECTION TO THE PASSAGE OF THE PROPOSED CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINERS OF NIGERIA BILL, 2021 BEING PROMOTED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ACCOUNTANTS OF NIGERIA(ANAN) AND CLARIFICATIONS ON CERTAIN MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE PASSAGE OF THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA (CIFIPN) BILL, 2021 BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
It is my pleasure to use this medium to formally and without any iota of contradiction, register our absolute objection to the passage of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria Bill, 2021 being promoted by ANAN which public hearing was conducted in order to elicit stakeholders’ viewpoints/opinions on the proposed legislation.
As such, it is important for us as the representatives of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, whose Bill was passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly just recently, to use this platform to officially register our objection to the passage of the newly introduced Bill, and to make certain clarifications on our Bill, which is at the verge of being sent to Mr President for Assent.
Before I proceed, permit me, to give brief background information about our organisation, that is the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, which has been in existence since 2009. In our years of existence, we have been able to train professionals in the various fields of forensic science, which include but not limited to the following pragmatic areas: forensic toxicology; forensic investigation; forensic auditing; digital forensics and cybercrimes, forensic autopsy; forensic law; forensic accounting; forensic nursing; forensic pathology; forensic engineering; forensic psychology; forensic DNA analysis; forensic anthropology; forensic linguistics; forensic deontology; forensic dentistry; forensic archaeology; forensic graphology, forensic entomology, etc.
Accordingly, in the course of training our prospective members and fellows, the Institute has been to broaden the horizon of professionals in the following areas of investigations, to wit: crime scene investigation; global anti-corruption compliance and enforcement; litigation support, forensic investigation capacities, preparation of forensic reports, fraud risk management, corporate fraud analysis, fraud prevention, detection and investigation, among others.
In view of what our Institute has been able to do over the years, especially, in the fight against corruption, through training on scientific and technological methodologies of detecting and investigating crime and fraud, and being conscious of its relevance to the socio-economic development of this country, the current President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, PhD, CON, who was the leader of the Senate in the 8th National Assembly, sponsored our Bill. Thereafter, an all-inclusive Public Hearing was conducted on the Bill and it was passed by the Senate, with overwhelming supports from all Distinguished Senators. The House of Representatives was not left out of this great historic step that the Senate kick-started. As such, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, graciously sponsored our Bill, and it was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives, as well.
Accordingly, the Bill was sent to Mr President for Assent, which was not granted before the Dissolution of the 8th National Assembly in June 2019. On this note, it is important for us to make this clarification against the unwarranted insinuations, being sponsored by our detractors that our Bill was rejected by Mr President in the 8th Assembly. To set the records straight, our Bill was NEVER REJECTED. The records are there for everyone to check because if a Bill is rejected by Mr President, the usual practice is that Mr President, will, through EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATION, write to the National Assembly, where the reasons for withholding Assent to any Bill will be clearly stated. However, this was not the case, as far as the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill was concerned. Being conscious of this fact and taking into cognizance, the laudable objectives of our Bill, it was re-introduced in this present 9th National Assembly, and Distinguished Senator Abdullahi A. Yahaya, the current Leader of the Senate, graciously sponsored our Bill in the Senate, while Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, sponsored it in the House of Representatives.
Thereafter, the Bill was subjected to painstaking legislative processes and on Tuesday 2nd March 2021, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, passed the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill, 2021 into law, after it was read for the Third Time. And due to the Bi-Cameral nature of our Legislature, the House of Representatives passed the Bill on Wednesday 19th May 2021. The accelerated responses given to our Bill by the two chambers of the National Assembly attest to the fact that the legislative intents and purports of our Bill, are of strategic importance to the fight against corruption and would boost all national efforts, targeted at eradicating corruption, which has eaten deep into the fabric of our nation.
However, like the thunderbolt that shook the ivory tower, we were taken aback, when we heard that a Bill that seeks to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria, sponsored by Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub was introduced at the Floor of the House of Representatives, immediately after the passage of our Bill by the Senate and the House of Representatives. On hearing this, we became curious and our curiosity led us to critically look at the provisions of the newly introduced Bill, alongside ours, which has already been passed by the National Assembly. Consequently, we discovered that the provisions of the new Bill, merely duplicate the provisions of our Bill and it scaled through Second Reading because Hon. Members of the House of Representatives thought that it was our Bill that was being debated upon. This was ascertained after reviewing the debate that ensued when the Lead Debate on the Bill was presented by its sponsor.
It is instructive to note at this juncture that during the debate on the general principles of the proposed Bill, the Hon. Members that spoke in favour of the Bill, misunderstood and misconstrued it to be our Bill because they were making references to when the Bill was passed by the two Chambers in the 8th National Assembly. Some of them in their submissions stated that the proposed Bill has been passed by the Senate already and as such, the House should follow suit by passing it just like its Senate counterpart. For the avoidance of doubt, it must be reiterated that the one and only Bill on Forensic, which was passed by the 8th National Assembly was our Bill, and not this new one being referred to, here. As a matter of fact, this new bill has not been introduced in the Senate yet. This misconception arose due to the similarities of the nomenclature of the Institutes and their functions, as espoused in the provisions of the two Bills, hence the need for the National Assembly to do what is right to save Nigerians from this apparent confusion and unnecessary contradiction. Come to think of it, how can we pass a Bill to regulate the practice of forensic science today and tomorrow, we are passing another Bill that also seeks to regulate the practice of forensic science in Nigeria? This is an anomaly that must be corrected, through total rejection of this newly proposed Bill.
On this note, I wish to crave your indulgence, to allow me to highlight our concerted and well-reasoned points of objection to the passage of the proposed Bill, which is before the House of Representatives for further legislative action, as follows:
1. That the provisions of the Bill are unnecessary duplications of the provisions of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) Bill, 2021, which has already been passed by the National Assembly, and it is at the final stage of being sent to Mr President for Presidential Assent;
2. That having two chartered institutes of FORENSICs to regulate the practice of forensic science in the country at the same time, would lead to role conflict and clash of interest. This will not augur well in the overall interest of this country;
3. That the passage of the proposed Bill is tantamount to abuse of legislative process, practice and procedure, having hitherto passed a Bill on the same such matter, which the proposed Bill is seeking to enact;
4. That the United States of America (U.S.A.), which has legislation similar to the proposed Bill, does not have the word “forensic” in the title of their law. What they have is called “The ASSOCIATION OF CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINERS, which is quite specific and straightforward in that regard;
5. That the passage of this Bill will make a mockery of the entire legislative process before Nigerians and the international communities. The onus now lies on the National Assembly to be well-guided so as to do the needful;
6. That it is rather confusing for an Institute to refer to itself as a chartered institute and at the same time parading itself as a certified fraud examiner. By standard practice, it is either you are a chartered institute or you are a certified fraud examiner. You cannot combine the two.
From the foregoing, it is apparent that the passage of this bill will do more harm than good. In fact, it is our perception that this is a calculated attempt by our distractors who failed woefully in their opposition to the passage of our Bill but are yet determined to pass through the back door in order to hijack the process, having failed to achieve their parochial and self-serving interests to scuttle the passage of our Bill. As an Institute, we cannot afford to sit idly by and watch these deliberate attempts to frustrate our resolute efforts towards securing the long-awaited legislative/institutional framework for our Institute.
Furthermore, it is imperative to let Nigerians and indeed the entire world knows, the reason(s) why the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), have tried everything within their powers to frustrate the passage of our Bill since it was introduced in the 8th National Assembly to date. It is common knowledge that the unprecedented high level of corruption, which has ravaged this country since our independence till now, were perpetrated by accountants who are the ones showing public officers the way the nation’s treasury can be looted, without being detected, for their own selfish reasons. This has always been the problem because Nigerians are not looking at it from this direction at all. There is hardly any fraud that can be committed in any organisation without the active connivance of accountants in that particular organisation. Therefore, ignoring this fact in the fight against corruption is like getting rid of an unwanted tree by just cutting the stem and allowing its root to still remain, which undoubtedly, will sprout again.
Hence, upon the introduction of forensic science and methodology in the detection and investigation of fraud and crime, they are now threatened by the fact that their well-hidden secrets will now be exposed, if nothing is done to checkmate the passage of the Bill, which seeks to establish our Institute.
The method of forensic investigation we are bringing on board is in line with the emerging global trend and international best practices, but our distractors are making it look as if we are doing something that is alien and different from what is being practised in the developed world. Obviously, from the apprehensions and the desperations shown so far, it is abundantly clear that they are not oblivious of what our Bill will do to them when it is eventually enacted as an Act of the National Assembly. As a result, they have deployed all manner of gimmicks to befuddle our resolute effort to ensure the passage of our Bill. Their desire is to continue to keep Nigerians in the dark by keeping to the spent and archaic ways of detecting and investigating crimes and frauds, which have not yielded any meaningful results, due to sophistication and advancement in science and technology in the 21st Century.
To further adumbrate on the above-mentioned assertion, these enemies of our Bill, having failed in all ramifications to stop the passage of our Bill, have resorted to playing the spoiler game, having realized that they cannot stop us because the Legislative Arm of our Government has seen the need and the strategic importance of the unique concept we are bringing on board in the fight against corruption through this Bill, which is one of the cardinal policy thrust of this administration. As a result, these antagonists decided that if forensic science must be regulated, they must be the ones to champion and pioneer such movement for them to continue to do what they have been doing as they are unamenable to innovative ways of fighting corruption in Nigeria.
This, I make bold to say, is the reason behind the introduction of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria Bill, introduced and promoted by the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) to provide protection for accountants to the detriment of Nigerians. In fact, it is their intention to hijack the whole process through this proposed Bill so that they will become judges in their own courts in order to ensure that any fraud or crime perpetrated by their practitioners would be concealed from another independent body or from the searchlight of the public. This is a well-orchestrated plan that should not be allowed to see the light of the day because they cannot continue to hold this country to ransom.
In conclusion, I wish to use this opportunity, once again, to thank the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and indeed, the House of Representatives and their respective leaderships, for the successful passage of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill, 2021. Indeed, posterity will remember them for this noble feat and we believe that together, Nigeria will surmount all the problems it is currently confronted with.
Thank you and God bless.
Dr. Mrs. Enape Victoria Ayishetu, Ph.D, FCFIA, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM
27th May 2021