Passage Of Forensic Bill: Commendation/Appreciation Of The 9th Assembly For The Passage Of The Chartered Institute Of Forensic And Investiagtive Professionals Of Nigeria (Cifipn) Bill, 2021; And The Relevance To The President Muhammadu Buhari’s Fight Against Corruption And Insecurity In Nigeria
The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday 19th May,2021 at the House of Representatives and Tuesday 2nd March, 2021 at the Senate made history by passing into law, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill, 2021 (SB.615 and HB. 791), after it was read for the Third Time in the both two Chambers (SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE). This act is a clear demonstration of the National Assembly patriotism and direct response, targeted at strengthening and re-invigorating national frontiers in the fight against fraud, corruption and cybercrimes, which has eaten deep into the fabric of our nation. With the passage of this Bill, the 9th Assembly under the distinguished and able leadership of His Excellency, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON and Rt Hon. Femi Gbajabiala have shown clearly, its ardent resolve to carry out its legislative functions in line with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. And this also attests to the fact that the National Assembly is alive to the performance of its complementary role(s) with other arms of Government in the fight against corruption.
It is with great delight and a deep sense of gratitude that I write this, which has been put together as a platform for us to let Nigerians and indeed the whole world know what the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is all about and the unique concept we are bringing on board in order to complement national efforts in its quest to ride the country of corruption, fraud and Cyber-Crimes and other related crimes.
First and foremost, I wish to profoundly thank the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the distinguished and dynamic leadership of His Excellency, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON, the President of the Senate, for magnanimously passing the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill, 2021 on Tuesday 2nd March, 2021. After the passage of this Bill by the Senate, and in view of the fact that we operate a bi-cameral Legislature, the ever-ready and resilient House of Representatives, under the able leadership of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Hon. Speaker, followed suit and passed the Bill on Wednesday 19th May, 2021.
As you may well be aware, the Bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) has been one of the most viciously attacked and antagonised bill in the National Assembly in recently times, sadly the attacks came from those who ought to be partners in progress in the fight against endemic corruption in Nigeria, but have rather designated themselves as enemies of the general good. Good is good it has no substitute so also is bad. No matter how long it takes, good always prevails over bad just as the superiority of light over darkness remain constant and unquestionable so has the Bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) prevailed over its antagonists and today the both Chambers of the National Assembly has passed the bill into law.
It is indeed important for us to have a glimpse of how it all happened at the National Assembly.
Interestingly, The Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (Est) Bill 2021 (CIFIPN) was first passed into law by the 9th Senate on the 2nd day of March, 2021 having undergone the rigour of legislative processes of 1st Reading, 2nd Reading and eventual at its 3rd Reading on the 2nd March, 2021 the bill was unanimously passed into law by the Nigeria Senate having deeply considered the urgent need for this noble legislation, of course this was not without series of thunder bolts from detractors who would not stop at any length to see that any legislation that would be helpful in assisting the Buhari led administration to fight corruption does not see the light of the day but the senate stood firm and saw it through.
It is very important for the public to know that (CIFIPN) is not just a noble body but a novel one in Nigeria that is targeted at bridging the gap that has long been existing in the forensics space. Today, the journey to having a standard body that would regulate the practice of forensics in Nigeria is at its peak and Nigerians must rise to challenge the few anti-government bodies that would want to sabotage this step.
The passage of this Bill by the National Assembly, no doubt, is a clear demonstration of its patriotic zeal and the need to further strengthen all national efforts geared towards the fight against corruption, which has hindered development in every aspect of our national lives. This legislative bold step, taken by the two Chambers of the National Assembly, is quite historic and symbolic, coming at a time that Nigeria is in dire need of legislation(s) that will give more bite to its anti-corruption drive in view of the raising spate of criminal and corrupt practices, across the globe. As we all know, crime generally, has assumed a new dimension, due to advancement in science and technology in the 21st Century. Therefore, the passage of this Bill is apt and timely and it has shown clearly that we have flexible and responsive Legislature that is in tune and in touch with emerging global realities and ever-ready to enact legislations that will meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
It is apposite to also state that the journey, which culminated into the passage of this Bill, began in the 8th National Assembly whereby, our Bill was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON, the current President of Senate when he was a Senate Leader, because of its strategic importance to the anti-corruption drive of this administration. For the benefit of hindsight, when our Bill was introduced in the two Chambers during the 8th National Assembly, all-inclusive public hearings were conducted by the relevant Committees of the respective Chambers. Thereafter and in spite of opposition from stakeholders who were in the minority, led by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), the National Assembly passed the Bill, in view of its significance and the part it will play in the fight against corruption. Afterward, the Bill was forwarded to Mr President for Presidential Assent, which was not given before the Dissolution of the 8th National Assembly in June, 2019. It is on the strength of this, that the Bill was re-introduced in this 9th National Assembly and this time around, it was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Abdullahi A. Yahaya, the current Leader of the Senate, in view of the importance attached to it. We are constrained to make this clarification in order to clear the air on the cheap propaganda being propelled by our distractors that our Bill was rejected by the 8th National Assembly.
Also worthy of mention is the fact that our Bill has been mistaken for similar Bills, which were recently introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives’ Chambers. These Bills, upon our close scrutiny, we discovered that they are merely duplications of the intents and purports of our Bill. It must be stressed that none of these Bills were introduced in the 8th National Assembly, other than our Bill. As such, we are the first to ever come up with a Bill of this magnitude,(Forensic) having seen the urgent need to establish such great Institute. The decision to establish the Institute was taken after a painstaking study of how the Institutes operate in other jurisdictions and how well they have helped in crime detection, investigation and prosecution.
It is instructive to note that our Institute has been in existence since 2009. And over the years, we have trained professionals in the field of forensic science and technology, targeted at inculcating the requisite skills and acumen in the pragmatic areas of forensic investigation and management, to wit: forensic analysis to eliminate material misstatement, whether caused by error or fraud; voice recognition analysis; fingerprint/signature analysis; digital forensic and cybersecurity; 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, etc.
You will agree with me, distinguished ladies and gentlemen that in today’s world, the conventional ways of investigating crimes, with a view to fighting it has become obsolete. As such, for us as a nation to do something meaningful in this regard, it is paramount that we align ourselves with the global trend and emerging innovations, targeted at fighting corruption. It is in line with this reasoning that the idea of establishing this Institute was conceived with a well-structure laudable objectives that are relevant to the anti-corruption drive of this administration. Time will not permit me to highlight all the objectives of the Bill here. However, I wish to crave your indulgence to highlight a few of the objectives of the Bill, for the purpose of this address, as follows:
1. To establish a Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria in order to develop and train Professionals in this specialized field, through systemic and professional examination and certification that will enhance the acquisition of the requisite skills in the use of science and technology for fraud detection, investigation and prevention;
2. To provide a platform for training and re-training of intending professionals in the usage of Forensic Science and technological tools and techniques in the investigation of frauds in both public and private sectors of our economy, in line with international best practices;
3. To promote high professional standards, ethics and etiquettes amongst practitioners in the field, in a bid to stem fraudulent and corruption practices, and as well develop a mechanism for fraud prevention, as a proactive measure against corruption generally;
4. To fill the existing huge vacuum in our archaic and conventional system of investigation with the introduction of a unique operation of forensic science to help the country from expending its scarce foreign exchange to hire foreign expatriates to do forensic investigations in Nigeria;
5. To develop a broad-based mechanism and training programmes that cut across all the strata of our investigation architecture, involving professionals such as Lawyers, Criminologists, Security Experts, Judicial Officers, Court Registrars, and Economists. This would enhance effective and efficient disposition of cases in line with global best practices; and
6. To enhance Nigeria’s anti-fraud mechanisms, through the provision of a legal framework for the professional development and discipline of forensic and investigative professionals in Nigeria, among others.
From the foregoing, it is apparent that the role of this Institute is quite strategic and important. It is also pertinent to reiterate that forensic science is a very wide and all-encompassing field, which requires effective and efficient regulation for the attainment and sustainability of high level professionalism and ethical standards. The broad spectrum of the scope and focal point of the Institute, includes but not limited to – 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 archeology; forensic graphology, forensic entomology, etc.
Accordingly, you will agree with me that our Institute is bringing on board, a unique concept of crime detection and investigation in conformity with international best practices. This concept is far beyond the reasoning of those whose myopic view about the purports of our Bill have beclouded their senses of reasoning, due to narrow-mindedness and inordinate desire to monopolise a system, which is outside their jurisdiction and scope of operations.
On a lighter note, I wish to draw the attention of everyone to the funny scenario that is playing out now, and as a matter of fact, it should be a source of concern for all well-meaning Nigerians. When the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill was introduced in the 8th National Assembly, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), came out vehemently to oppose its passage because according to them, it is an unnecessary duplication of functions already undertaken by their Institute. However, upon the re-introduction of our Bill in this 9th National Assembly, and having seen the overwhelming and accelerated legislative supports, our Bill has received from the two Chambers, ICAN has now realized that forensic science is a unique field of practice, and as we speak, they have introduced a similar Bill that is currently before the House of Representatives, having failed woefully in their attempts to stop the passage of our Bill. One may ask, what has changed between now and the past, where ICAN holds the view that there shouldn’t be any Institute other than theirs to regulate the practice of forensic science? your answer is as good as mine.
Before I end this address, I wish to also inform you that the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), is not left out of this funny theatrical episode. Just like their ICAN counterpart, they have also introduced a Bill in the House of Representatives with the nomenclature “the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria Bill”, which was initiated and being promoted by ANAN. I decided to bring out all these facts so that Nigerians and even the international communities will understand the extent to which some people can go in order to achieve their aims. However, we are not perturbed by these developments because we believe in the credibility and ability of the National Assembly and indeed the Presidency to do what is right and not to allow themselves to be manipulated in any way, by these unnecessary distractions, so as not to make a mockery of the entire thing.
The known practical and antagonist of this Bill has remained ICAN for reason that is now becoming obvious. They engaged several bystanders into writing frivolous petitions some even targeted at the leadership of the Senate with a tone of blackmail. Having failed woefully at the senate, the antagonists shifted their attention to the House of Representatives with the same bystanders writing all manner of publication. Yet again, they failed.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, ordinarily by legislative procedure, a bill that has been passed by the Senate would only require concurrence by the House safe for where there are observations. But in the case of the CIFIPN Bill, the antagonist fought the passage of the bill until truth prevail and on the 19th May, 2021 the Bill for the establishment of 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; and for Related Matters (HB. 791) was passed into law by the House of Representative.
ICAN has now registered its Bill in the House of Representatives titled (REPEALING AND RE-ENACTMENT OF ICAN’S ACT. This ICAN new Bill has in it full of provision for practice of forensic, and also that they will establish a Forensic University in Nigeria and without which nobody can practice forensic in Nigeria, and violation of this section will lead such a person to some years imprisonment. WOW! This sounds so strange in a country full of enlightened people. My joy is that Nigeria is NOT a Banana Republic no matter the level of Corruption therein. The almighty God will definitely deliver Nigeria from the taskmaster and salvage us from people that have no its interest at heart, but self-interest.
We are already challenging the passage of the bills by the House of Representatives. It should be noted that, our challenging the bill is not borne out of malice or ill will, but because we are certain that the purpose of this bill is to halt presidential assent under the guise of “existence of similar legislation”. We will not allow ourselves and Nigerians to be deceived by their antics.
You would recall how ICAN vehemently opposed this enactment of CIFIPN and in one of its sponsored publications by the Association of professional Bodies of Nigeria led by Engr.(Chief) Olumuyiwa Alade on the 24th May, 2019 made frantic efforts to say that ICAN under its enabling laws is empowered to practice Forensics and therefore for CIFIPN Bill to be passed it would amount to duplication of laws, today ICAN is presenting its ACT to be repealed and re-enacted with the inclusion of Forensics in the new law. The question is, what has changed? The same law that ICAN has always told the public that it has forensics is now seeking for its re-enactment.
As always, while we are not opposed to any group proposing the inclusion of forensics in its laws, we are however concerned that a body should not try to perpetuate itself. ICAN and its cohorts have realised their inability to stop the passage of CIFIPN so they want to have a body within itself. What they are scared of is checks and balances, they would not want another professional body to investigate their activities because they know what they are doing to the economy of this nation. How can they want to be a judge in their own case? This sounds so strange. On this note, we are calling on the National Assembly to beware of the antics of these groups, they cannot be speaking from both sides of their mouth and expect the National Assembly to be cajoled.
We want to yet again appreciate the doggedness of the 9th Assembly in ensuring that the Bill is passed, the Nigeria people are more than ever before convinced of the readiness of this administration to combat corruption through every possible means and would at all times encourage legislation that is aimed at achieving this goal. We are confident that His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari will not hesitate in assenting to this Bill as soon as it gets to his desk.
We are calling on all Nigerians to come and be part of the Forensics Profession. The profession is open for all professionals in the various field of endeavours. There is a training arm of the institute that will studiously guide you and equip you.
In conclusion, I wish to thank you all and to also reiterate our resolve and commitment to upholding ethical standards in line with global best practices, in rendering our professional services and trainings that would bring about innovative ways of fighting corruption and financial crimes, generally. Finally, I wish to appeal to all stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to support this noble course and to implore us all to make frantic efforts so that collectively, we can surmount the menace of corruption, the plethora of security challenges, across the country and other associated crises.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Long Live CIFIPN
CIFIPN! CIFIPN!! CIFIPN!!! CIFIPN IS UNSTOPPABLE.
Dr (Mrs) Enape Victoria Ayishetu, PhD, FCFIP, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM
Pro-tem President, (CIFIPN)
The 1st Nigerian to author of a book titled Practical Steps to Forensic Auditing and Fraud Investigation