Our response to APBN publication against bill to establish Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN)

Our attention has been drawn to an online newspaper publications made on the 24th May 2019 and credited to one Engr. (Chief) Olumuyiwa Alade Ajibola and Mr Sam Akanbias the President and Publicity Secretary of APBN respectively. Ordinarily, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria, as a body made up of well-groomed professionals, would have ignored the rather shameful comments of the APBN leaders so as not to dignify them with any response but for the history of mischief makers who have continued to group themselves in the name of bodies or associations to frustrate the realization of this noble cause, this is so unfortunate.

It is conceded that Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria (APBN) is the umbrella body of all approved professional bodies in Nigeria, needless to say that as professionals, we hold this body in high esteem and as such, would only offer responses to issues raised. We find it rather strange that a body whose primarily purpose ought to be to foster synergy amongst all professional bodies in Nigeria in the interest of the general public has, through its current leaders, allowed themselves to be ready tools in the hands of unscrupulous groups and individuals who hitherto are hell bent at seeing that Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria does not see the light of the day.

Those pushing APBN are enemies of Nigeria because any child that is born into a family and will not like her mother to give birth to another child is not a good member of that family. Please ask them, why the desperation? Why all these pushing of different groups against this noble profession that should be embraced by all? What do they want? Can APBN point out any professional body under them that is having forensic investigation in their Act? Is APBN saying there is no need for forensic investigation at all in Nigeria? If not, why has Nigerian government been hiring expatriate forensic experts to Nigeria for forensic fraud investigation all these years, using our scarce foreign exchange for that? Is APBN saying that Nigeria should not have forensic investigation body in this digital age? Do the APBN actually have the interest of this country at heart? Does the APBN has right to challenge law makers on their legislative functions even when they were very transparent? Certainly not, because they cannot claim ignorance of this global best practice.

We expected the APBN to have gotten her information right before going to the public on a matter that most Nigerians know the truth about. APBN should know that Nigeria belong to all of us. Therefore, there should not be a reason of monopolization by any desperate group of persons with parochial and self Interest. For the purpose of clarity and the unsuspecting public, we shall respond to APBN as follows: APBN said: “The association will resist the ‘spurious bill’ and baseless because it will at best create confusion within the sector”. Our simple response to the above assertion of APBN is first, Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria is not ‘spurious bill or baseless’. We strongly take exception to the deliberate and calculated insults targeted at our law makers. APBN admitted that the bill has even passed 3rd reading. It will be highly insensitive for supposed leaders of the umbrella body of professional bodies like APBN to say that a bill that has undergone due process of legislation is spurious and baseless. These comments, regrettably, undermines the integrity of the legislators and we accordingly condemned it. This should not be accepted in any guise. APBN further said: “If the bill is passed, it will impair the ability of any qualified expert, operating under each of the existing professional bodies to participate in forensic and investigative matters, despite the fact that the powers to do so belong to the specialized profession”. We feel rather pained that we are subjected to proffering responses to APBN, especially its very lame postulation. We cannot phantom how the passage of Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria to law would “impair the ability of any qualified expert operating under each of the existing professional bodies to participate in forensic and investigative matters…” May be we may have to remind APBN that it is an association of professional bodies and not a professional body in itself and by that, we mean, that we have about a hundred (100) professional body under its association distinctively performing its roles in accordance with its established act. It is rather preposterous to suggest that a member of The Institute of Professional Secretaries would say that he or she has been impaired by the Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria or Nigeria Institute of Safety Professionals probably because the word ‘Professional’ is added to its name. We cannot understand how performance of constitutional duties of the National Assembly becomes suspicious to an association as APBN, so strange indeed. Suffice to state here that the level of animosity of APBN in the above online publication appear familiar but leaves much to be desired.

The fight against corruption is real and the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals in Nigeria is ready and prepared to assist towards the realization of that goal. Global best practice examples today indicate a gradual bifurcation between core accounting bodies and emerging forensic and investigative bodies. For instance, in most Commonwealth jurisdictions such as Canada and India, forensic bodies exists as an independent profession distinct from the existing accounting bodies while in the United States, following the enactment of the Sarbanes –Oxlay Act of 2002 in response to the multi-billion dollar accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom, emphasis is now placed on the need for independence, objectivity and professional scepticism. In England, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) established by royal charter in 1880, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountant (CIMA) exists separate from forensic bodies. Zimbabwe, Ghana and South Africa, which are smaller African countries have separate bodies for forensic, and APBN is fighting against the global best practice in Nigeria simply because it is not coming from a particular professional body. Please tell them that they are already overwhelmed with the management of their members. Forensic is broad and cannot be narrowed the way some are thinking. Where were they when CIFIPN has been training professionals in this field since 2014? Why do they want to stop CIFIPN Bill simply because it does not emanate from them? Please corruption must stop in this country by all means. It is interesting to note that while some professional bodies appear contented with the current mechanisms for accountability and will do everything imaginable to frustrate any agitation for paradigm shift from existing approaches to globally accepted practices, available statistics on the losses suffered by private and public practices as a result of weak anti-fraud mechanisms should ordinarily be worrisome to any patriotic Nigeria, and in furtherance constitute huge worries to the opposition group; that with all their knowledge, sophisticated fraud are still being committed in our country. According to the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS) as reported in the Nation Newspaper of June 21, 2018, Nigerian banks lost 12.30bn to fraud in the last four years. According to the Managing Director of NIBBS, recorded fraud volume in Nigerian banks increased from 1,461 in 2014 to staggering 25,043 cases in 2017.

Where were the “know it all professionals” when all these were happening in Nigeria? It is an established fact that Government at all levels are losing billions of Naira to fraud, and most criminal cases bordering on corruption ,fraud and Cyber Crimes are lost partly due to lack of investigators. According to Femi Falana, prosecution of financial fraud in Nigeria is hampered partly by lack of experienced investigators and prosecutors and where they exist, they are overwhelmed or overstretched. We need not mention here that government agencies and multinational corporations spend huge sums out of scarce foreign exchange to retain expatriates forensic and investigative professionals to come and unravel complex cases of fraud. These are some of the considerations and lapses that necessitated the promotion of the CIFIPN Bill. We do believe that the passage of the Bill will impact positively on the war against fraud and corruption in Nigeria, while helping in redeeming the global image of our dear country with respect to fraud, corruption and Cyber Crimes. In rejecting this sustained effort by some group to stop the establishment of CIFIPN in Nigeria, we wish to emphasize from the outset that it is the prerogative of the National Assembly pursuant to section 4(2) of the item 49, part I of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, to establish and grant parliamentary charter to deserving professional disciplines like CIFIPN. Therefore APBN of Nigeria should try and get themselves acquainted with the constitution before some group of desperate and parochial persons mislead them because it will amount to a disappointment to Nigerians who hold them to the highest esteem. We hope that APBN and its leaders would be properly guided and limit itself to its statutory role rather than exhibiting postures that sound no less than an opposition. We wish to remind APBN that it is not a professional body and it will do itself more good if it understands this position. We are therefore, calling on the National Assembly, the Presidency and the general public to ignore APBN and its leaders as one of the desperate moves of a drowning man who can even ignore the sharpness of the edge of a razor blade in a bid to stay afloat for safety. We therefore, urge all well-meaning Nigerians in all spheres of endeavours to support this noble cause of entrenching an institutionalized framework that is targeted at fighting fraud, corruption and cyber-crimes at its conception stage for the robust benefits of all Nigerians.

Thank you.   Dr (Mrs) Enape Victoria Ayishetu, PhD, FCFIA, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM

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Read more: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/our-response-to-apbn-publication-against-bill-to-establish-chartered-institute-of-forensic-and-investigative-professionals-of-nigeria-cifipn.html