By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Federal Government has expressed concern over the increasing spate of money laundering and terrorism financing cases within West African, even as it disclosed that it had successfully used the instrumentality of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to recover over $11 billion looted from the nation’s treasury.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, who made this disclosure during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA, held in Abuja, added that the present administration “has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and financial crimes.”
According to him, “the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and related economic and financial crimes has become a major barometer for good governance, meaningful economic development and enduring national security.
“Against this backdrop, Nigeria has remained steadfast in its commitment to give support to GIABA in all its activities.”
Nigeria spearheaded its founding, and as the largest contributor to the ECOWAS, ensured that the institution has sufficient funding to carry out its mandate.
“Nigeria has taken several practical steps to address the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing. The federal government has put in place necessary legal, regulatory and institutional framework to facilitate the implementation of Anti-Money Laundering, AML, and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, CFT, regime, so as to engender regional economic growth, socio-economic development, political stability and integration, especially in the face of global economic crisis.
“The establishment of the EFCC and the ICPC represents a practical approach to the prevention and control of financial crimes based on international conventions and best practices.
“Today the EFCC is a model law enforcement agency in the sub-region in the fight against money laundering, so far it has successfully convicted over 400 persons and recovered over eleven billion U.S dollars.
“The federal government has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and financial crimes, and will continue to provide these institutions with all the necessary resources and create the enabling environment for them to carry out their functions optimally within the ambit of the rule of law”, read the speech, delivered by the Minister of Interior, Emmanuel Iheanacho.
Earlier, the Director General of GIABA, Dr Abdullahi Shehu, in his own address, bemoaned the fact that “the political, economic and social climate in West Africa has been a more fertile ground for the scourges of money laundering and terrorism financing, compounded by conflicts, weakened state apparatus, drugs and human trafficking, porous borders and informal economic networks”.
“The expression of political will from member states was often not followed by concrete actions that could convince the international community. The recent emergence of AQUIM in our northern border raises further concern among the international community as it combines terrorism and drug trafficking.
“Therefore we must stay committed within the framework of our new strategic cycle to strengthen our capacities for action and develop those of member states, so as to raise our region to the highest international standards.
“Significant results have been achieved but considering what yet remains to be done, we cannot be fully satisfied”, he added.