Forensic Bill: Reps Public Hearing turns Rowdy Over Allegation of Plagiarism

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A public hearing on a bill to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners became rowdy, on Thursday, in the House of Representatives over allegation of plagiarism.

The public hearing was organised by the House Joint Committees on Anti-corruption and Commerce.

At the hearing, Uzoma Abonta (PDP, Abia) alleged that the bill plagiarised one he had sponsored, which the House already passed.

“What is now surprising is that this bill being considered, I authored the other one. This bill is word for word with the bill I authored. That is plagiarism,” he said.

Mr Abonta sponsored the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, which was passed by the House on May 19.

It was also passed by the Senate.

Premium Times is yet to independently verify the claim of plagiarism.

Mr Abonta, when contacted, failed to provide evidence to prove plagiarism.

Benjamin Sekpe, who represented Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals, also alleged that the bill is a duplication of Mr Abonta’s bill.

“The bill under public hearing at the moment is more or less a photocopy of our bill,” Mr Sekpe said.

Buba Yusuf (APC, Adamawa), the sponsor of the bill, denied the allegation that the bill is plagiarised.

Background

Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria bill, sponsored by Mr Yusuf, was introduced to the House on March 2 and passed for second reading on April 29.

The institute is already functioning despite the lack of a legislative framework. Iliya Gashinbaki, serves as the chairman of the institute.

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The Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and the Society for Forensic Accounting and Fraud Prevention (SFAFP) are the two bodies pushing for the passage of the bill.

On the other, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria was sponsored by Mr Abonta and it was passed some days ago.

The same bill was passed by the Senate. Also, the bill was passed in the 8th Assembly, but President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent.

The institute also functions despite the lack of a legislative framework.

ICAN kicks against both

The age-long rivalry between the ANAN and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) resurfaced at the public hearing.

Speaking on the bill, Innocent Okwuosa, the second Vice President of ICAN, said there was no need for another institute to do functions that ICAN is already doing.

He added that section 19(2) of the bill seeks to criminalise ICAN and ANAN trained forensic accountants.

“Section 19(2) of the proposed bill seeks to criminalise ICAN and ANAN trained and certified forensic accountants who do not come under the membership of the proposed institute. This is dangerous because no single institute should have the power to train and regulate the practice of wide and distinct specialist fields.

“This bill seeks to create one professional body like accounting, law, engineering, finance, medicine, etc. This is an anathema, a farce as no one professional body can claim to practise bits and pieces of all professions,” Mr Okwuosa said.

Rival institutes bicker over bill

Mr Gashinbaki, while canvassing support for the bill, said no organisation should have monopoly over any profession.

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“Not until the private sector gets involved in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, we ‘ll remain where we are,” he said.

On the opposing side, the Protem President of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, Victoria Enabe, said the new bill was a duplication of the investigative professional institute enabling law that had been passed into law by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

She pointed out that having two chartered institutes to regulate the practice of forensic science in the country would lead to duplication of responsibility.

The fate of the bill is now subject to the recommendation of the committees of the House

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