It is no longer news that the Distinguished Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 2nd March, 2021, passed the Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria(CIFIPN) (Establishment, Etc.) Bill, 2021, after it was read for the Third Time - upon the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service. In the same vein, the House of Representative also passed the same Bill on 19th May, 2021.
Soon after the Bill passed 2nd reading by the Senate on 10th February, 2021, the then 2nd Deputy Vice President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Dr Okwuosa - who is now the 1st Deputy vice President of ICAN went on a blackmailing spree. In an article published by some media outlets, he accused the Senate of ‘’hasty passage of the Forensic Investigative Professional Bill’’. In an article published by Guardian he wrote, “Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (Est) Bill, 2021 (SB.615) sponsored by Senate Leader, Yahiya Abdullahi came up for first reading on the floor of the Nigerian Senate. There is another bill currently at the House of Representatives with the title “Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (Est.) Bill, 2020.’’
Within two weeks this bill passed first, second and third reading in the Senate and the news following on 3rd March is that the Senate has passed the bill. When it gets to the House of Representatives, harmonisation will take place, I was made to understand. The speed of lightning with which the Senate passed this bill shows it is more important to them than the security challenges confronting the country presently or the present economic sufferings of the citizens, none of which has attracted any bill from the Senate. There was no public hearing on the current bill, but a mad rush, a hasty passage, designed to take them unaware.
Dr Innocent Okwuosa did not stop with the above false accusation on the Senate President His Excellency Sen. Ahmad Lawan Ibrahim, but went ahead and distributed same write up to several so called Civil Society Organisations non-existing to publish it and as well write petition against the personality of the President of the Senate, addressed to the Senate President and copied the following offices;
1. Attorney General of the Federation His Excellency Alh Abubakar Malami
2. The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari Agboola
3. Inspector General of Police
4. The Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila
6. DSS, etc
The Bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria was duly passed by the 8th assembly and transmitted to President for assent at the twilight of 8th assembly, but it was not assented to due to the dissolution of 8th assembly, and it was re-introduced in this 9th assembly. However, it is on record ICAN fought the forensic Bill for about 7 years, because in the 8th assembly ICAN said that its Act empowered them to practice forensic, and there is no need for a forensic body in Nigeria. According to them, allowing forensic body in Nigeria amounts to proliferation and balkanization of the Accounting profession in Nigeria. They tried to stop the passage of the Bill at all cost, but failed woefully.
Their stock-in-trade over the years is to oppose any noble course, relating to professional bodies that will help Nigerian economy generally - so as to have monopoly over everything, including those things that are outside the scope of their area of special competence. It should be made known to all that the Senate, as a resilient and open-minded Chamber, subjected the Bill to a Public Hearing, where all the stakeholders were given opportunities to air their views for and against the passage of the Bill. After the Public Hearing, the Senate saw the merits and justification to pass the Bill into law. That someone who failed in his attempts to stop the passage of the Bill, to now resort to this campaign of calumny, is rather unfortunate. The Bill passed through all the legislative processes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading.
The Senate as a sacred Institution must be respected at all cost and its activities are beyond any parochial or narrow interest of any individual or organization; hence, the need for ICAN to trade with caution over his unbecoming conducts, which is informed by lack of understanding of the legislative processes.
It should be noted that while this malicious publication and petitions can be easily dismissed by every discerning mind considering the timing and the obvious lies conveyed in the petition and publication, leaving such lies in the public domain without appropriate response may be interpreted by unsuspecting members of the public as conceding to the antics of the 1ST vice President of ICAN’s sponsored petition. We therefore wish to set the record straight and ask ICAN the following critical questions:
Where has been their contribution to the fight against corruption, bribery, fraud, money laundering and financial crime which have for long ravaged our economy and dwarfed development? Is it not the case, as shown by empirical research and legal pronouncements that these social vices that led to the collapse and failure of many companies were aided and abetted by invidious and insidious accounting practices by the so-called ‘know-it-all’ accountants and their cohort? What are the internal mechanisms the organisations put in place to punish accountants found wanting and how effective are there?
It is unfortunate that ICAN does not even know its boundary as a non-government agency. ICAN has conferred on itself power to direct the distinguished senate and the House of Representatives of the federal Republic of Nigeria on how to discharge their constitutional duties. ICAN has failed in its duty towards our country Nigeria and they have now engaged in a campaign of misinformation and blackmail of the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
ICAN have enjoyed monopoly over the years until it became difficult for them to regulate the conduct of their members like professional bodies like the Nigeria Bar Association and others do. For an ICAN that have failed woefully in the area of discipline of its earring members to still have boldness to talk in Nigeria is rather unfortunate. ICAN in one of their petitions against the Forensic Investigative Professional Bill in 2018 said that the functions and responsibilities of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIA) Bill that was passed by the senate is contained in their Act of 1965. An expired empty Act of ICAN of 1965 cannot have forensic in it, because there was nothing like forensic even in the 70s, in the whole world let alone an ACT of 1965. ICAN has never seen any reason for amending its Act since 1965. ICAN’s claims are baseless, false and malicious. To proof to you, ICAN has a Bill right now in the House of Representative titled ‘’REPEALING AND RE-ENACTMENT OF ICAN ACT’’ The main reason for this Bill is to quickly include in their Act, and Forensic has now been included in their Act, just to properly make it the previous false claims. ICAN fought the CIPFI bill until the initial name was changed from Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative auditors of Nigeria to Chartered Institute of forensic and investigative professionals of Nigeria after killing the first Bill on the ground that the word Auditor in their name belong to them Now ICAN. Now they have come up with a different complaint - this is quite unfortunate. ICAN cannot just go to the House of Representatives to manipulate them and succeed just like that; because their mandate is the training and certification of Accountants only, not fraud investigation. Accountants who prepare books of Account cannot at the same time carry out the forensic of fraud therein, because it leads to conflict of interest, it is bad for Accountants to be judges in their own court.
ICAN accused the senate of creating a parallel professional body in a Punch newspaper on 22nd July, 2018 just because the Forensic Bill was passed. Same ICAN is now preaching the law of monopoly in the same Nigeria, yet ICAN enjoyed monopoly in Nigeria for decades before the establishment of ANAN. They fought the establishment of ANAN, CITN, CIBN, etc, and even went to court but they lost all their legal battles, and today we have CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF TAXATION which is one of the government agencies that is assisting Nigeria today.
ICAN,’’ the know it all’’ Accountant have no moral right to warn against what it characterizes as MONOPOLY in Nigeria because ICAN warned the NASS in 2018/2019 of proliferation of accountancy bodies in Nigeria or a parallel professional body even when Forensic is opposite of ICAN. ICAN has no solution to the problem of Nigeria.
Because they have alledgly enjoyed the proceeds of corruption over the years directly or indirectly, they would not like to be checkmated by forensic professionals, and would like to hijack the forensic profession. This is why they started again foraging in their usual futile, circumlocutory fashion to mislead the general public and the Presidency against the establishment of FORENSIC PROFESSIONAL BODY in Nigeria. CIFIPN is not an Accounting Professional Body but an anti-fraud organization that cuts across other professions. ICAN, WHY THE DESPERATION OF THIS MAGNITUDE?
It is worthy of note that the corporate failures became scandalous not only because of the characteristics of the companies (size, age and their reported past successes) that collapsed and their multiplier effect on national and global economies, “but also because of the discovery that questionable accounting practices were far more insidious and widespread than previously envisioned”. Their financial statements were all prepared and audited by ICAN and their counterparts.
REASON FOR DESPERATION OF ACCOUNTING BODIES AGAINST FORENSIC BILL”
1. They are afraid of their members being exposed to long records of fraud that have emptied the Treasury, and that has arrested Nigerian’s economic growth.
2. They want to continue to enjoy the proceeds of fraud and corruption of their members without being traced by forensic.
3. They want to be jack of all trades, master of none.
Above reasons and others are the reason for the ceaseless fight against the establishment of the forensic Bill in Nigeria. Right now ACCOUNTANT have gone ahead and introduced two forensic bodies in the National Assembly in a bid to hijack the forensic profession in Nigeria and water it down to ensure that its objective is defeated. These Bills Includes:
1. CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINERS OF NIGERIA – By ANAN in the House of Representatives and now at the committee level
2. CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF COMPUTER FORENSIC OF NIGERIA- at the Senate 1st reading
3. REPEALING AND RE-ENACTMENT OF ICAN ACT- This is to enable them include forensic and frustrate forensic profession in Nigeria. This at the committee level.
The above three Bill were introduced after the passage of CIFIPN Bill by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is an abuse of legislative process. Why will similar Bills be introduced and process same time, same period?
Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) is saddled with the responsibility of providing skills and certification to relevant professionals on the use of science and Technology for prevention, detection and investigation of fraud of all kinds and also put in place some sophisticated mechanisms to prevent future occurrence. CIFIPN is a multidisciplinary profession and all encompassing. If I may ask, how does this become ICAN work for God’s sake? Forensic Professionals are only needed when fraud is suspected, and they don’t have anything to do with preparation of Accounting books.
Considering the fact that the world is evolving and modernization has rendered ICAN archaic styles which have not in any way helped the nation in war against corruption outdated.
ICAN can’t hold the nation stagnant in war against corruption through application of technology, it's high time ICAN be told that healthy competition and rivalry is global norm and Nigeria as part of global community can’t be exempted; hence, moving around with money bangs, planting fifth columnists in state house, National Assembly and various ministries and parastatals will soon meet its expiring date.
Over the years ICAN has sponsored so many petition against the senate President and other principals of the National Assembly aiming at thwarting the Bill to establish the CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA (CIFIPN) through unregistered and mushroom civil society group with all manner of libellous allegation.
Please enough is enough for ICAN’s negative activities against the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Comrade Kayode Esan
Convener, Nigerian Integrity Movement (NIM).
Writes From Abuja.