DEPLOYING FORENSIC SCIENCE TO TACKLE INSECURITY, CORRUPTION, FRAUD AND CYBER-CRIMES TO PREVENT A LOOMING DEVASTATING EFFECT ON NIGERIAN ECONOMY
The Board members and other members of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, Professors of Accounting here present, My professional colleagues from various professional bodies within and without, Gentlemen of the Press, Ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of the Board members of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors of Nigeria (CIFIPN), it is my singular honour and privilege to welcome you all to this press conference on a very serious national BURNING issues, that will have a serious devastating effect in our national lives and our future generation including the children yet unborn, if the right step is not taken at the right time. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE. A drastic action is required by Nigerian government to prevent the looming economic recession and frustration in Nigeria, as a result of fraud, corruption, cybercrimes and insecurity. Killing all over Nigeria currently which has made the citizens living in a serious panicking leaving them with no hope of survival.
Nigerian fight against crimes and insecurity in our country will remain a mirage if we continue to do the same thing, same way, same method, same approach year after year and expect different result. It might interest us to know that NIGERIA IS CURRENTLY SITTING ON A TIME BOMB THAT CAN DETONATE AT ANY TIME IF THE RIGHT THING IS NOT DONE URGENTLY BY EMBRACING THE USE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA IS ACTUALLY ON A RESCUE MISSION if given a legal backing. WHO DO NOT KNOW SHOULD PLEASE KNOW IT NOW, AND ENSURE THIS INDISPENSABLE BODY IS GIVEN A LEGAL BACKING WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY.
Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is anti-fraud organization saddled with the responsibility of providing skills for professionals from relevant fields on the use of science and technology to detect, prevent and investigate fraud, and also put in place some sophisticated measures to prevent future occurrence. Therefore, CIFIPN is multidisciplinary and its membership cut across other professions like law, criminology, Sociology, Economics, Security experts, Investigators, banking and finance, psychology, police detectives, etc.
INDISPENSIBILITY OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS IN NIGERIA?
One of the biggest problems confronting Nigeria today is insecurity, fraud, corruption and Cyber Crimes. Crimes of all kinds like killings, kidnappings, social media harking, Cyber Crimes, fraud and corruption has been technological enabled and what that means is that there is a need of technological enabled system to prevent the prevent these This cankerworm has eaten deep into the great fortune of our dear nation over time resulting to economic challenges like underdevelopment, rising unemployment situations, retrenchments, collapse of corporate organisations, banks, poor infrastructural development and decay as well as national insecurity. Sometimes, one gets disappointed looking at the position or state of affairs of the Nigerian economy as at the moment, with particular reference to the above mentioned ills. It has been quite embarrassing that, in our very eyes as Professional Forensic Investigators in Nigeria, our country is descending into destruction day by day while the security situation has gone worst, and it will be very hard to repair if this is allowed to continue. This is so because CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA that should assist government in putting preventing all these ills has NOT been given a legal backing to enable them do their job in Nigeria. Its high time Nigerian government start looking beyond the normal ways of doing things. Crimes and criminalities are committed with technological tools, and that has made it sophisticated to handle. Therefore, the use of forensic in dealings and preventing the menace cannot be over emphasized.
As we are aware, Fraud, corruption and cybercrimes in Nigeria has now moved from billions of Naira to trillions of Naira. Research has shown that Nigeria has lost about N2 trillion Naira in the past few years to fraud and cybercrimes. Most of these crimes are committed through internet (phishing and identity theft) of which no other ways of preventing them than forensic science and technology. No wonder the empty treasury and lack of un-employment for the youth which has posed security implications to our country nationwide. It is a statement of fact that as distasteful as it is to hear that 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, corruption Cyber-crimes, and insecurity, very little result has been achieved, especially in the area of securing a conviction against perpetrators of crimes in Nigeria. This is because many of the cases, especially the high profile ones, are either thrown out of court for want of evidence or are unnecessarily delayed and stocked in court for years, due to one reason or the other. Besides, criminals, kidnapers, hoodlums, bandits, corrupt practitioners’, killers, etc. have hidden places only in the absence of forensic in a country. Other countries of the world like American, Europe, Asia, etc, have discovered the secret and the power of forensic investigation over the years, and it has helped them in dealing with crimes and insecurity problems in their countries.
It is no doubt that forensic is the last hope of this country Nigeria if the issue of insecurity must be put to rest, because with forensic investigation, fraudsters corrupt personalities who have contributed in putting the country into this mess will be brought to book, and those that are planning to go into same evil or crimes will be prevented with the use of forensic science and technology. With forensic in town, all corrupt persons have no hiding place in Nigeria as it were, and that is why some group of persons will rather want forensic Bill killed because of some skeletons in their cupboard, but unfortunately FORENSIC INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA remain unstoppable.
The Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS) reported in the Nigerian Newspaper of June, 2018 that Nigerian banks lost N12.30 billion to fraud in the past four years. According to the Managing Director of NIBBS recorded fraud volume in Nigeria banks increased from N1,461 billion in 2014 to staggering N23.043 cases in 2017. The situation right now is worse than the above analysis because fraud volume in Nigeria has now increased to trillions and no longer in millions. Now Nigeria has lost about N2 trillions to Cyber-Crimes in the past few years.
According to the scriptures,” even though it tarries, joy cometh in the morning”. Nigerians remain grateful to God for President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR, a dogmatic leader with charisma to war against corruption in Nigeria. Within the few years of President Mohammadu Buhari administration, repatriation of funds stolen from Nigeria were enforced through collaboration with other anti-corruption agencies. Besides, given anti-corruption mechanisms such as whistle – blowing, environmental policing as well as public slogans as, “if you see something, say something” have been of great assistance to law enforcement agents. Also recall another slogan from Mr President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR that says if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us. YES, as good as this slogan is, Nigeria need assistance of the right tools (FORENSIC INVESTIGATION) to succeed in the fight against the menace, and bring back sanity to our country.
It is necessary to inform the public that, the emergence of this concept to establish the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) was conceived arising from the huge gap in the fraud and crimes preventive measures in Nigeria, on one hand is the recent advancement in technology in recent times which has made the world a global village, but capitalized on by fraudsters and criminals who have found comfort to defraud the public and government making it imperative for CIFIPN intervention. This body exist in other jurisdictions, like USA, Canada, Uk and even in smaller African countries like South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe, and these countries have moved far in the use of forensic for fraud prevention, detection and investigation for the growth of their economy. Therefore, we see no reason why Nigeria being the giant of Africa is still struggling for just establishing the first forensic Act in the country. How can a country like Nigeria still depending on other smaller countries for forensic investigation? VERY BAD.
We wish to state for the umpteenth time that the primary domain of forensic and investigative professionals is to work within the investigative process from the scene of fraud to the court, providing information and evidence for the administration of justice; and to ensure that the courts are presented with the best evidence and reliable witnesses. Forensic Bill is necessary to provide the legal framework for the registration, training, regulation and certification of practitioners in the field of forensic and investigation in line with global best practices.
The absence of the appropriate legal framework for the regulation of forensic investigation practice in Nigeria portends great danger to the integrity and safety of the Nigerian economy. The first noticeable consequence of such a lacuna is that Nigeria currently is losing trillions of Naira to fraud day after day undetected, which by extension has brought serious calamity to us. TO PREVENT A DEVASTATING EFFECT ON NIGERIAN ECONOMY/ECONOMY RECESSION in the country, we Forensic Investigation remain a key solution.
PUSUIT OF LEGISTLATIVE BACKING BY THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC AND INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS OF NIGERIA SINCE 2016-2021 AND APPRECIATION TO THE NIGERIAN SENATE FOR A CREDIBLE WORK DONE.
The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Tuesday 2nd March, 2021, made history by passing into law, the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill, 2021 (SB.615), after it was read for the Third Time. This act is a clear demonstration of the Senate’s 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 Senate, under the distinguished and able leadership of His Excellency, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON has 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 Senate is alive to the performance of its complementary role(s) with other arms of Government in the fight against corruption.
There is no gainsaying the fact that one of the unique features of a good Legislature, lies in its capacity to understand the dynamism of emerging developments in the globe and its forthrightness to be proactive in the law-making process by ensuring that this country does not lag behind in its quests good governance and in the fight against corruption. Obviously, we are not unmindful of the fact that crime, generally, has evolved over time, due to sophistication in the way and manner they are committed in this modern era, where unimaginable advancement in science and technology has taken the center stage. Therefore, the passage of this Bill is a testament to the fact that the Nigerian Senate is in touch with the realities of our time and conversant with legislative tenets and principles of making laws that seek to address salient issues, which are germane to the socio-economic development of this country. This, of course, is the quintessential hallmark of a legislature per excellence that is resilient, astute, courageous and responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.
Forensic Science, as we all know, is a multi-dimensional and multi-faceted aspect of science, whose scope and ambit of operation, revolves around many disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and engineering for evidence analysis, which are helpful and applied in criminal and civil laws that are enforced by law enforcement agencies, in a criminal justice system. There is no doubt, that there is upsurge in the crime rate in this country and in spite of interventionist measures put in place by the government to salvage the situation, the resultant effect has been a state of despair and hopelessness because of the sophistication in terms of how such crimes are perpetrated. However, it has been discovered that the missing link in the fight against corruption in the country, is traceable to the absence of forensic evidence in the Nigeria criminal justice system. This seeming lacuna, apparently, has rendered our justice system ineffective. As such, the country has witnessed myriad of unresolved high profile cases of fraud and corrupt practices, which have been swept under the carpet or thrown-out in the past, due to absence of evidence to prosecute such cases. This is also the reason why in a bureaucratic organization or government circle, even when fraud experts perceive corruption, it is often difficult for them to deal with it. Nevertheless, the introduction of forensic investigation, which is the underlying principle behind the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria, is intended to bridge the gap and provide the needed platform to carry out such investigations with ease and give impetus to the fight against corruption. This is because forensic science has evolved over time, due to the dynamic nature of knowledge and skills acquisition, which can be technically applied to detect, identify and prosecute offenders of financials crimes and other fraud-related issues, as against the orthodox practices, which has constrained robust investigations, over the years.
It is a common knowledge that corruption, both at the local and international level has reached its highest crescendo and has been at the front burner of public discourse for a long time in this country. Virtually, in every sector of the nation’s economy, corruption has permeated to an unimaginable proportion and this has given rise to poor public policy, bad governance, misappropriation of public resources, which has impaired development of the public and private sectors of the economy. This accounts for the reason why Nigeria has consistently been rated by Transparency International (TI) among the most corrupt nations in the world. Therefore, as patriotic citizens of this country, there is something we must do to change this negative connotation about our beloved country, and part of that effort is the introduction of our Institute, which the Senate in its wisdom has recognized and gave it an accelerated passage in order to reposition the nation’s anti-corruption drive, for effectiveness and efficiency.
Furthermore, it is apposite to state that forensic profession is a very wide and all-encompassing field of profession that requires proper regulation and a high level of professionalism, as its activities cut across every facet of human endeavours. The field includes and not limited to the following: 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, forensic science, etc. From the broad spectrum of this profession, it is therefore imperative for it to have a regulatory body because its relevance to humanity and the economic well-being of any nation, is sacrosanct and a step in the right direction.
It is trite to also state that the relevance of forensic investigation in the modern world, cannot be over-emphasized. That is why it is important for Nigeria, to, as a matter of urgency and priority embrace this global phenomenon in its quests to overcome the challenges of massive fraud corruption, cyber-crimes and insecurity, which has deprived the nation of development in spite of the abundance of resources at the disposal of the country to bring out positive change both in infrastructure and human capital development.
The initiative behind the proposed Bill, is the realization that even though, anti-corruption agencies have been established and numerous civil service reforms and laws to fight corruption have put in place by the government, they have been rendered as toothless bulldog, which can only bark but incapable to bite because their operations, has, to a certain degree, been limited due to the archaic nature of carrying out investigation. Hence, the need for a profession like ours, imbued with high level of competence to proffer solutions to the menace of fraud and corruption in Nigeria, to be backed with the required legislative/legal framework to carry out this herculean task. This is in recognition of the fact that forensic science is one of the most important archetypes of any criminal investigation, as it allows the relevant authorities to do everything to identify a suspect in a crime and to determine exactly when and how a crime occurred, through the analysis of physical evidence in line with scientific innovations to bring about results that can be used in the court of law to support evidence admitted at trial.
To further appreciate the relevance of what the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria is all about, it is important to note that the Institute has developed unique concepts on how to train professionals in the field of forensic investigations and other related matters, with particular focus on how to contribute to the generation of evidence in crime detection prevention, investigation and provision of evidence for courts, by relying information, extracted from physical traces, through searching, scrutinizing and testing in order to come about pieces of information that can bring about significant contribution to the various dimensions or phases of a criminal inquiry. This is so because forensic investigations are influenced by deferential dimensions of knowledge, available in physical, immediate, and criminal environments, considering the distinct phases of criminal activities. The institute has trained thousands of professionals in Nigeria and beyond in forensic investigation.
Undoubtedly, the institutionalization of law reform, as a tool for societal growth and development, is one of the cardinal policies of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. This is so because the anti-corruption drive of this administration imposes on the Legislature, the enamours tasks of carrying out reforms in our obsolete and spent laws, as well as enactment of new laws in order to ensure the realization of Government’s intentions in every facet of our national lives. Accordingly, the passage of CIFIPN Bill has shown clearly that the Nigerian Senate is aligned and totally committed to the agenda of the current administration, in its attempts to stem the tide of corruption, fraud and cyber-crimes in Nigeria.
We are hopeful that just like the Senate has done by passing the Bill, the House of Representatives, which is also made up of competent leadership and members with high intellect and drive for development, would likewise fast-track the legislative processes of passing this Bill which is currently in the committee of the whole waiting for final consideration, in order for it to be assented to, by Mr President for effective implementation of its laudable objectives and purports, as stipulated in its provisions. We believe in the ability of the House of Representatives not to allow itself to be deceived or coerced by some individuals, group of individuals or so called civil society organisation being sponsored by our distracters etc, who have sworn to truncate this noble legislative process, due to their selfish, self-serving and parochial interests, borne out of the fact that they are unamenable to rationale reasoning and evolution of global dynamics in forensic investigations, as a panacea for handling criminal investigations in the 21st Century. It is instructive to note that one of the reasons why the Senate passed this Bill expeditiously, was not unconnected with its laudable objectives and relevance to the anti-corruption drive of this administration. For the avoidance of doubt, some of the objectives of the Bill, are highlighted hereunder, for the purpose of clarity and for the House of Representatives to see the need why it should toe the line of its counterpart, the Senate, by giving this Bill expedited and speedy passage into law.
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;
- 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;
- 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 fraud and corruption generally;
- 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;
- 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 the effective and efficient disposition of cases in line with global best practices; and
- 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 aforementioned objectives, it is abundantly clear as to why the Senate fast-tracked the legislative process of passing this Bill. This is one piece of legislative proposal that is all-inclusive and all-encompassing, as far as forensic investigations, are concerned. On this note, we wholeheartedly join our hands together with all well-meaning Nigerians to commend and at this time, appreciate the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for brazing the trail and for showing the right direction to follow, in the national efforts to curb the ever-increasing menace of criminality and corruption, which have been further exacerbated by the current harsh economic realities that Nigeria, and indeed, the rest of the world have been subjected to, in recent times.
Finally, we wish to specially acknowledge the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D, CON for his overwhelming and unalloyed support, right from the introduction of this Bill to its passage. We also acknowledge the unwavering support of the Senate Leader, Senator Abdullahi A. Yahaya, who graciously sponsored the Bill. Our appreciation is also extended to the entire Senate leadership and all the distinguished Senators of the 9th Senate. Indeed, posterity will remember the 9th Senate for this noble gesture and for listening to the voice of reason by discountenancing few dissenting voices, who employed all manner of gimmicks to stall the passage of this Bill. The Bill is for the interest of Nigerians and to give hope to the future generation and even our children yet unborn. It is now or never.
CIFIAN! CIFIPN!! CIFIPN!!! CIFIPN IS UNSTOPPABLE.
Dr Mrs Enape Victoria Ayishetu, FCFIP, FCNA, FCTI, FCFA, CPFA, CFE, MNIM,
Pro-tem President, being a speech she presented at a press conference in Abuja on May 1, 2021.