The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has called on Nigerian youths to get involved in combating money laundering and terrorism financing in the country.
GIABA, an agency of the ECOWAS, was established in 2000 to prevent and fight against international money laundering and terrorist financing in member states.
The Director-General of GIABA, Mr Edwin Harris, made the call on Monday at the 15th edition of the Open House Forum, organised for selected university students across the country in Port Harcourt.
The one-day forum had the theme: “The role of the youths in the fight against transnational organised crime.”
Harris was represented by Timothy Melaye, GIABA’s Country Head in Nigeria.
He said the group was concerned over the growing threat of money laundering and terrorism financing, and was working closely with law enforcement agencies to tackle the menace.
“In view of this, we organised this open house forum to sensitise the youths to their responsibilities and obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism.
“The aim is to foster and strengthen partnership between GIABA and the youths in the fight against transnational organised crimes in West Africa.
“So, we are here to raise awareness on the need to protect the economies and financial systems of ECOWAS member states against the laundering of proceeds of crime,” he said.
Harris said that money laundering and terrorism financing posed serious threats to the peace, security and sustainable development of the region.
“Organised crime knows no border, and so, all nations must cooperate completely to deal with this threat.
“As future leaders, empowering the youths towards leadership positions requires concerted efforts at enhancing their understanding of the deleterious effects of crimes both at national and individual levels.
“We want participants to understand the harmful effects of these evils on the rule of law, political stability, democracy, economic development, prosperity and health of citizens,” he added.
The director-general said the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) adopted by 187 countries including Nigeria, followed 40 recommendations in the fight against the transnational organised crimes.
The Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Mr Modibbo Tukur, said that youths were major and critical actors in money laundering and financing of terrorism in the region.
According to him, youths must understand that organised crime does not pay in the long run.
“Going by the global, regional, sub-regional and national efforts at combating such crimes, the criminal does not have anywhere to run or hide for long before he/she is caught.
“So, it is in the best interest of the youth to avoid associations that may lead them to crime,” he advised.
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Prof. Owunari Georgewill, called on participants to become change agents, to enable the country to progress. (NAN)
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