The Nigerian Vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Saturday said without dealing a lethal blow to the network of cabals, who are in the business of channeling money to terrorists , there would be no hope of complete eradication of the menace of criminality in any way.
According to him, African economies must treat money laundering and other financial crimes with zero tolerance to maintain and substain economic, financial sanctity.
This was contained in a press statement made available by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-president on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, the copy which was obtained by Daily Post.
Osinbajo made the submission at the opening ceremony of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) 18th Ministerial Committee meeting, in Abuja.
He said, “We have for long enough affirmed our commitment as a sub-region to fighting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. We must now back this intent with forceful action and visible results.
“Let me start by commending the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) for the support to member States in implementing robust Anti-Money laundering and terrorist financing measures in line with acceptable international standards, particularly the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.
“GIABA has worked hard in keeping with the ECOWAS mandate to eradicate Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing from our region by regularly assessing and evaluating member states on their implementation of the FATF standard recommendations.
“Since the beginning of this week, all member states of the GIABA (the 15 ECOWAS countries, and Sao Tome & Principe) have gathered here in Abuja under the auspices of GIABA to evaluate their respective AML/CFT regimes and share experiences on the way forward in tackling these financial crimes.
“Let me also commend the dedication of the GIABA Ministerial Committee, which stands at the helm of GIABA, serving as the conduit of political will and funding from the member-states, as well as providing it with policy directions required to conduct its activities.
“Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing are crimes that have significant ramifications for the security and wellbeing of our various countries.
“In Boko Haram, we have seen the devastation that a well-resourced terrorist group can wreak, not just on individual lives and livelihoods, but also on the stability of national and regional political and economic systems”, he said.
Osinbajo regretted the devastating impact of insurgency in Nigeria, noting that over 20,000 lives have been lost while more than 2 million persons displaced in the last decade.
He wondered why a hitherto obscure sect became a daring menace to the whole lake Chad Basin.
“I’m certain that a significant part of the answer to those questions will be found in the complicated multinational networks of financing that sustained the group and nurtured its hateful vision. There is absolutely no way that Boko Haram would have grown as dangerous as it did without access to funding and resources, mobilized from far and wide.
“It is clear that without dealing a lethal blow to those powerful criminal networks that funnel money to terrorist groups, we cannot reasonably hope to completely obliterate the threat of terrorism and other organized criminal activity in our sub-region.
“Boko Haram is just one example of how much evil can be done by a subversive group that has figured out how to raise money in the shadows.
“There are many others like it, with similar or different goals, all of them united by the need to raise financing to achieve their aims.
“We know that the lines between terrorist groups, corrupt politicians, traffickers (whether of drugs, guns or people); fraudsters; smugglers; kidnappers; illegal oil bunkerers, etc, have always been blurry; that these groups have always found complementary need for one another’s tactics and strategies.
“Indeed, if there’s one thing that the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, from Al Qaeda to ISIS to Al-Shabaab, have in common, it is the ease and expertise with which they diversify their criminal activity while retaining their overarching goal of inflicting maximum devastation.
“Today, in the age of the Internet, that blurring has intensified. Cyberspace has made it easier than ever for criminal syndicates to not only draw inspiration and learning from one another, but to also devise increasingly complex means of fundraising and of bypassing conventional financial system checkpoints and safeguards. The advent of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies provides the unprecedented levels of discreetness preferred by criminal networks. The result is that financial crime is able to always stay a few steps ahead of governments and the law”, the statement said.
About Article Author