The Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria was passed by the House of Representatives on 23rd May.
First and foremost, I would like to commend the House of Representative for being very transparent in carrying out their own legislative functions on the issue of the passage of CIFIPN Bill from beginning to the end. We sincerely appreciate them for the good work they have done. The bold steps taken by these Honourable members is outstanding and indeed commendable by every true Nigerians because our country has moved a step forward and will soon be on the same page with other jurisdictions where similar anti-fraud bodies exist.
Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is anti-fraud organisation saddled with the responsibilities of providing skills for the relevant professionals on the use of science and technology for prevention, detection and prevention of fraud, and to put in place some sophisticated measures to prevent future occurrence and also stop illicit financial flows in the country as it were. CIFIPN ensure that the courts are presented with the best evidence and reliable witnesses. the place of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized because to provide the legal framework for the registration, training, regulation and certification of practitioners in line with global best practices;
This body is unique and distinct from any existing laws of Nigeria and those that just want to hide under the so called protection of professional bodies to speak ill against the noble and credible work done by the House of Representatives.
Please, Forensic is an emerging trends in the whole world, and it not in the Act of any professional body in Nigeria including those that might have sponsored or masterminded the malicious and mischievous publication of Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) against the passage of CIFIPN Bill in guardian online news on 24th May, 2019, which exposed their ignorance about the emerging trend (Forensic).
Please we advise that Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria should conduct a thorough research before they allow themselves to be used by some desperate group of persons to mislead the general public against such a laudable professional body which is for the interest of Nigerians, and as well display ignorance to the whole world on the global best practice.
The primary domain of forensic and investigative professionals is to work within the investigative process from the scene of fraud to court, providing information and evidence for administration of justice; which means every true Nigerians should be happy about this new body that has emerged to salvage Nigerian economy from a total collapse.
We are not surprised about the continuous and relentless efforts by the known opposition to scuttle CIFIPN Bill, because ordinarily nobody will like be told the truth especially when such truth is directly trying to correct an errors that has benefited them for years.
The advent of globalisation and technological advancement in the global space has not left us without its attendant ills, which has cumulated in wide spread sophisticated tech based concealed crimes in our systems. Nigeria in no small measure share some of these ills with the global world.
As s distasteful as it is may sound, our nation Nigeria is rated among countries with very poor fraud prevention records in the world, it is even more worrisome to know that despite the federal government renewed efforts in tackling fraud and corruption, very little result has been achieved, especially in the area of securing conviction against perpetrators of fraud in especially those in public organisations.
It is to reiterated that many of the cases, especially the high profile ones, are either thrown out for want of evidence or are unnecessarily delayed and stocked in court for years, due to one reason or the other occasioned either by lack of evidence or half-baked evidence with no in-depth forensic analysis.
Fraudsters have gone sophisticated and now engage digital technologies to perpetrate fraud, and it is impossible for such fraud to be detected by the usual ways. Our system requires an advanced knowledge of the use of sophisticated mechanisms and technological tools for prevention, detection and investigation of fraud. To this end there is a need for a paradigm shift to the new anti-fraud mechanisms for prevention of fraudulent occurrences, hence the need for the establishment of a legally empowered body as Forensic Investigative Profession in Nigeria, there cannot be a better time than now.
Notwithstanding the cancerous nature of the technologically aided fraud, Nigerian laws appear almost silent on these phenomena. The resultant effect is that there is presently a dearth of forensic and investigative professionals in Nigeria to offer professional support in the mining of evidence needed for the prosecution of fraudsters.
Our nation, Nigeria currently spend huge sums of money humongous foreign exchange to retain the services of expatriate forensic and investigative professionals to carryout assignments that could have been effectively better performed by locally trained manpower.
You agree with me that apart from the huge revenue lost by public and private organizations due to lack of effective anti-fraud mechanisms, this unfortunate development has profound security implication on the nation and must be reversed forthwith and there can be no better way than ensuring that Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria becomes a body established through an Act of the National Assembly.
Suffice to state here that many nations like America, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Asia that are making significant progress in the fraud prevention and fight against white collar crimes, have not only fully embraced forensic investigative methods to prevent fraud, but have also continually review and updated their fraud preventive measures and investigative policy to accommodate both private and public forensic professionals in order to cope with the rapid growth and sophistication of fraud in the private and public sectors of their economy.
It is even a shameful thing for Nigeria to be struggling to establish just an anti-fraud professional body in Nigeria when other countries have gone ten steps far above the level of forensic bodies, even some smaller African countries like Zimbabwe, Ghana and South Africa.
The Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals seeks to develop and train Forensic and investigative Professionals in Nigeria, through a system of professional examination and certification that will make them qualified and more skilled in the use of science and technology for fraud prevention, detection and investigation.
Amongst its basic functions and objectives, this body seeks to create a platform which will produce qualified, dedicated, skilled and professionally trained individuals in the use of Forensic Science and Technological tools and the techniques of forensic for investigation of fraud in public and private sector of our economy, using international best practices and skills in the discharge of their function
Going by its objectives therefore, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria will promote high professional standards, ethics and etiquettes amongst her members in a bid to wipe out cases of fraud and corruption and also a mechanism for fraud prevention which is currently one of the banes of many practitioners in Nigeria.
Interestingly, one the uniqueness of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is that it has created wider coverage to accommodate and make provision for the training of professionals from other disciplines like Lawyers, Criminologists, and Security Experts, Judicial Officers, Court Registrars, economics, police detectives, cyber experts amongst others that are desirous to become skilled in this unique practice of fraud prevention, detection and investigation. This is because Forensic and Investigation involve litigation support, court testimony and expert witness.
Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria even at its embryo stage has been actively involved in training of professionals from different fields, and has trained thousands of professionals within and without, and have a good number of qualified members from different fields like Lawyers, Criminologist, Security Experts, Judicial officers, Accountants, economists, etc since its establishment in Nigeria. Right now we have so many registered students across the country that will pass through the process of examinations to be qualified as forensic professionals. These students are expected to undergo series of training in forensic field and qualifying examinations from stage one to stage three.
To underscore high level of personalities that are already members of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, we already have in our fold Prominent Nigerians who are against fraud, corruption and cybercrimes in Nigeria and will like deliverance in our country. Therefore Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is not a group of kindergartens; is a body with seasoned professionals.
We must reiterate the point that similar bodies as Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria are already in existence in many anti-fraud leading countries such as Canada, America, Australia, India amongst others, these has afforded greater opportunities as we are already collaborating with these countries in areas of partnership training, information sharing, exchange of ideas, associate programmes and note comparison.
By the time the Institute is backed by an Act of National Assembly:
One major advantage that this body would bring to our anti-corruption fight and crusade is that, it will not only partner with relevant government agencies, but will also help to train their agents and staff through certification on the use of science and technology of forensic and investigation skills in order to put in place some advanced mechanism to prevent frauds in their various organisations and not only investigating fraud after the deed has been done.
- Prevention is key here because fraud is better prevented. This organisation will primarily train all her members and also staff in various government agencies and parastatals to be proactive rather than just being reactive to fraud cases. If we as a country must address the problem of fraud and corrupt practices, we must be seen to come up with better ways to assist our government and relevant agencies in preventing fraud, as the saying goes; prevention is better than cure.
- It will help to strengthen the nation’s institutional frameworks thereby bringing us at par with other developed countries, in line with global standards and competitiveness.
- It will stimulate public confidence, and enhance transparency and accountability in our economy system and our national lives.
- It will also answer the question often posed by foreign investors as to the safety and guarantee of their direct foreign investments (DFIS) in our country.
- The Body also seek to leverage on the skills already acquired by thousands trained forensic experts in Nigeria and Africa at large, to offer training and retraining of personnel in order to broaden and ensure active participation from various relevant organs of government.
- It will also popularize the art and use of science and technology of forensic investigation and fraud prevention by professionals just like as it is practiced in many developed countries.
- It will create employment opportunities especially for our teeming young graduates and youths who are roaming on the streets.
- It will also help to generate as well as conserve foreign exchange through its training programmes for Nigerians and foreigners, especially nationals of neighbouring African countries, who will want to be trained as professional forensic investigators. Note also, that Nigeria at the moment is pioneering the training on the use of forensic investigation for prevention of fraud, corruption and cybercrimes in Nigeria.
- Besides, having a home based forensic and Investigative Professionals will save Nigerian government the cost of inviting Foreign Forensic Investigators for forensic fraud investigations as it were. There is a need to patronise made in Nigeria to grow Nigeria please.
- It is going to be a win-win situation from which ever perspective it is viewed, but especially when looked at from the context of judicious application and utilization of scarce resources and a nation like ours that does not enjoy immunity from global recession that is also affecting other nations of the world with more technological advancement than ours.
In conclusion, the need for the enactment of Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria cannot be overemphasised, this is primarily because it will help Nigeria to have skilled professionals to deepen the fraud prevention, detection and investigation thereby assist to preserve money in government treasury for infrastructural development that is far disappearing in our country today, through preventive measures.
This will ultimately further the issue of fraud prevention and fight against corruption of the federal government and indeed all the other tiers of government, which believes in strengthening institutions and processes of government.
We have no doubt in our minds that the enactment of Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria will enhance advanced knowledge on the use of science and technology for fraud prevention, detection and investigation and we urge all relevant bodies especially the National Assembly and the Executive to give attention for its expeditious passage and consequent assent.
May we further note with emphasis that Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria CIFIPN Bill is therefore a patriotic course that is wholly in the interest of the nation, and no one should be dissuaded or blackmailed to abandon this noble cause by the grace of the almighty God. The sky is too wide for birds to fly without clashing.
Therefore, let us refuse the spirit of monopoly in Nigeria as it is being done in other jurisdictions. We therefore, urge all well-meaning Nigerians in all spheres of endeavors to support this noble cause of entrenching an institutional framework that is targeted at fighting fraud, corruption and Cyber Crimes at its conception stage for the robust benefits of all Nigerians.
We jointly call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure he give a speedy ascent to the Bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) to compliment his administration in the fight against fraud, corruption and Cyber Crimes that have far ravaged our country and dwarf development.
Mrs. Enape Victoria Ayishetu PhD, FCFIA, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CFE, CPFA, MNIM is Pro-tem President Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN).