By Nwafor Sunday
President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday said that illicit financial flows in Nigeria and Africa, aggravate insecurity in the region.
He called on security agencies in Africa, especially the intelligence community, to tighten the loop against illicit financial flows.
In a keynote address at the opening session of the 16th Conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), President Buhari said development and stability on the African continent had been undermined by illicit outflows estimated to be about 60 billion US dollars annually.
“Frankly, we may never know the true extent of the damage. Estimates, however, suggest that African countries lose over 60 billion US dollars annually due to illicit financial outflows, a staggering amount for a continent in dire need of development finance.
“Corroborating this figure, a United Nations Report on ‘Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resource Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009,’ observed that during the period 1980 to 2009 between $1.2 trillion and $1.4 trillion was taken out of Africa. This figure is half of the current Gross Domestic Products of all the countries of Africa,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the theme for the conference, “Illicit Financial Outflows from Africa and its impact on National Security and Development,’’ was most timely, urging stakeholders from the intelligence community of the 52 African countries to create a template of risk factors and actionable strategies and give priority to examining the links between crime and instability on our continent.
The President also challenged the conference to put measures in place that will ensure terrorists and criminals were denied access to financial systems.
“Criminals and their collaborators cheat the system through various practices, including trade mis-pricing, trade mis-invoicing, tax abuse and evasion, as well as money laundering. Several unfair commercial agreements and illegal resource extraction by multinational companies, in cahoots with their local collaborators, also create routes for illicit financial outflows.
“As partners in the fight against crime and insecurity, you know that terrorist networks, organized criminal syndicates of drugs, arms and human traffickers and sundry hostile non-state actors are actively undermining the security and stability of our countries,’’ he added.
President Buhari said firm and unwavering action will be required to bring threats under control, noting that “any evasion of rules and regulations in ways that aid corruption in its various manifestations, including illicit financial outflows, must be vigorously fought and defeated.’’