How FG Identified Terrorist Financiers, Seized N45 Billion Looted Funds

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FG Identifies Terrorist Financiers, Seized N45 Billion Looted Funds

The Federal Government, on Thursday, said it has seized over N45 billion that was illegally looted from the national treasury.

It further disclosed that a number of individuals and entities linked to terrorist activities have been identified and designated, with funds traced to them also confiscated.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, made the disclosure in his opening address at the 40th Technical Commission/Plenary Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA, held at the State House, Abuja.

GIABA is a specialised institution of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) strategies in West Africa.

In his presentation, the AGF, who spoke on behalf of Nigeria, said the President Bola Tinubu-led government was determined to build on successes that were recorded by past administrations in the country, especially in areas of investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.

He said: “In 2022, we increased the budgets for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency by almost 95%.

“We now have over 1,500 officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering across these three agencies alone.

“These sustained investment has seen increased numbers of investigations, prosecutions and convictions consistently since 2021 with 5,118 investigations, 1,509 prosecutions and almost 500 convictions secured resulting in over 45 billion naira of illicit proceeds seized.

“We have also made progress in tackling the financing of terrorism and in particular, I am pleased that we have identified and designated a number of individuals and entities linked to terrorist activity and seized funds linked to them.

“The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), has become a global model and achieved the outcomes envisaged by the passage of its enabling legislation in 2018 which established it as an independent, autonomous unit.

“The Unit has significantly expanded the scope of financial intelligence it has access to and provides to other competent authorities.

“The Unit has also put in place a number of innovative technologies including the Crime Records Information Management System (CRIMS) which has transformed our approach to intelligence sharing.

“The measures I have outlined and our future ambitions are underpinned by a rigorous analysis of the money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing risks we face as a country,” the AGF stated.

Stressing that there are myriad of challenges facing the West African sub-region, ranging from the threats of illicit financial flow to the existential dangers posed by terrorist groups, the AGF, said there was greater need for enhanced international collaborations.

“As global risks become more complex, and technology more embedded as well as borders increasingly fragile, we must move towards a more tailored approach to responding to this new ML/TF/PF environment.

“I believe that without a truly equitable and effective system for international cooperation, we are fighting the enemy with one hand tied behind our backs.

“I therefore urge GIABA to effectively pursue this mandate on behalf of our member states,” he added.

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