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FG disputes alleged N18b terrorism funding by ISWAP

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
07 December 2021   |   4:13 am
The Federal Government has denied a report by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) alluding that the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) was laundering N18 billion through Nigeria’s financial system to deepen terrorism.

ISWAP

•HURIWA alleges lax oversight of regulator by Buhari
The Federal Government has denied a report by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) alluding that the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) was laundering N18 billion through Nigeria’s financial system to deepen terrorism.

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), which reacted yesterday via a statement issued by its Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko, faulted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) body that observed the fund was generated yearly from trading and taxing communities in the Lake Chad region.

Established in 2000 to lead the West African sub-region’s efforts to tackle Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT), GIABA had also criticised the Nigerian government for its alleged failure to track the movement of funds by terrorist groups, through the country’s financial system.

But shredding the report, the NFIU described the document as “totally outdated and was based on a 2019 country evaluation report which is literally stale and irrelevant today.”

The statement said Nigeria’s counter-terrorist financing efforts have “practically moved forward since then.”

The NFIU went on: “It is to the knowledge of the international community, our populace and the formal media organisations that several arrests were made through the ongoing Operation Service Wide approved by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). The exercise is continuing and far from over.

“In addition, funding of violence from all sections of the country is being evidently analysed and reported to all relevant authorities according to law.

“It’s true that recently, Nigeria fell a victim of illicit financial flows, but overt and far-reaching efforts are being executed by government to stem the bad practice.”

The intelligence unit said the ECOWAS body released its report to justify putting Nigeria’s financial system under an enhanced review process alongside other nations in the Sahel.

“We had formally faulted the report to the ECOWAS body, while agreeing to partner with them to carry out further review processes to jointly attain global best practices on all counter measures against local and cross border violent crimes disturbing the entire West Africa presently.

“All our neighbours have proofs of our exchange of terrorist financial intelligence with them real time,” the statement added.

HOWEVER, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has flayed President Muhammadu Buhari for “failing to play effective oversight roles on the regulator of the banking and financial institutions.”

In a statement yesterday by its National Coordinator and National Director of Media, Emmanuel Onwubiko Miss Zainab Yusuf, the group stated that “it took the United Arab Emirates to prosecute successfully some five funders of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, whereas the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) is busy playing politics of going after financial assets of protesters who organised the #EndSARS protests last year and President Buhari is more interested in granting amnesty to the so-called repentant Boko Haram terrorists.”