Stakeholders identify lack of forensic expertise in Nigeria’s anti-graft war

Stakeholders identify lack of forensic expertise in Nigeria’s anti-graft war

Sunday, June 16, 2019 8:13 am

Shortage of forensic facilities and expertise have been identified as major setbacks in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows in Nigeria, according to some stakeholders.

The stakeholders, including accountants, auditors and financial crime investigators, stated this at the end of a four-day international workshop on forensic investigation in New Jersey, United States, at the weekend.

Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the workshop, the participants called for the development of local capacity in forensic to effectively tackle graft in the country.

NAN reports that the event was organised by the International Institute of Certified Forensic Investigation Professionals (IICFIP), USA, in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigation Professionals (CIFIPN) of Nigeria.

Dr Friday Wada, one of the resource persons, said forensic expertise was critical in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of financial crimes as well as tracing and recovery of stolen assets.

Wada, a U.S.-based forensic accountant, stated that many corruption cases instituted by Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies were failing in court due to lack of forensic evidence.

While urging local infrastructure and manpower development in the field, he advised law enforcement bodies to engage professional forensic accountants and auditors in their work.

Another participant, Prof. Silas Lamela, said the anti-corruption crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration needed the support of professional forensic investigators to succeed.

“This programme is an opportunity for us to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to deploy ourselves in the fight against corruption;

“We all are stakeholders in the Nigerian project, and we have a role to play to curb this devil called corruption,’’ he said.

Lamela, who is the immediate past Director of Finance and Accountants in the Federal Ministry of Finance, called for a conducive environment for the forensic investigation practice in the country.

This, according to him, includes enactment of the proposed Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigation Professionals in Nigeria Act.

Mr Gabriel Iorsase, a Lagos-based chartered forensic investigator, said the country was currently spending so much in importing experts in the field to address corruption issues.

Iorsase noted that such resources could better be used to develop the practice in Nigeria.

He said he and the other participants hoped to domesticate the knowledge and skills acquired at the workshop to save the country foreign exchange.

Dr Mannixs Paul, the Chief Executive Officer of IICFIP (USA and Canada Operations), said for Nigeria to defeat corruption, it must migrate from traditional to digital methods of financial crime investigation.

He said “We cannot continue in the old ways of doing business; we have to join the rest of the world in forensic investigation to effectively tackle corruption.

“What we are doing is to share knowledge on how to move forward, and we have many professionals from across the globe to share knowledge that we can use for the common good of society’’.

Dr Victoria Enape, the protem President of CIFIPN, said financial crimes had gone hi-tech, hence the need for the training to equip local investigators with knowledge and skills to be ahead of criminals.

The workshop, held at the New Jersey Campus of the University of Phoenix, featured forensic accounting, auditing and investigation techniques; cyber security; intelligence management; detection and deterrence of white-collar crimes, among others.

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