By Stephen Ubanna
Between 2020, and now, there have been pressure on the Nigerian government by the international Community to join the global Task Force Action, FATF, which monitors 39 member countries ‘’ to ensure full and effective implementation of its, standards, on Money Laundering and Terrorists Financing watchdog by holding nations that do not keep to it accountable’’.
The pressure on the Nigerian government became more pronounced when a United Arab Emirate, UAE, Court, released the lists of six convicted Nigerians jailed 10 years each last year for allegedly funding the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram, whose Leader , Abubakar Shekau was killed last May, in a supremacy battle with another rival Group, the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, founded by Musab Al-Barnawi, now dead, at the Sambisa Forest.
As a prelude to the jailing of the six Nigerians: Abdurraham Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa , Ibrahim Ali Alhassan and Abubakar Muhammed, the Middle East country had designated of 38 Nigerians and 15 identities of the Arab country, as those supporting and financing terrorism in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, in the north east geopolitical region of Nigeria and which should have encouraged President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, to ensure that Nigeria joined FATF, before now. The Nigerians were found to have set up a BokoHaram cell in UAE to raise funds and material assistance for the terrorists in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government may have found it necessary to join FATF, when another set of six Nigerians were placed on the terror list by the UAE governemnt. Informed sources told The Value News that the decision was part of the Gulf country’s efforts in disrupting the networks associated with financing of terrorism and forestalling whatever plans the Financiers of the terrorists Groups in Nigeria might still have.
Given the intensified activities of the both the BokoHaram and ISWAP, insurgents , in the north east geopolitical region, may have informed why Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice , who may have had the mandate of the Katsina state born Nigerian President to indicate of the country’s willingness to become a member of FATF.
Malami, who has the ear of the Nigerian President, may have taken advantage of the extraordinary Committee Meeting of the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in the West African sub-region, GIABA, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to speak out.
The Nigerian government may have been forced to drag the nation into the FATF, as the Financial Intelligent Unit had issued an executive alert to all the Ministries and Departments and Agencies, MDAs, for ‘’the implementation of the action plan on the country’s follow-up process to FATF’’.
As a prelude to joining the FATF and GIABA, the member countries were said to have reviewed and adopted the just concluded second Mutual Evaluation Report, MER., of Nigeria. An elated Malami. who could not hide his feelings, had told those who cares to listen that ‘’the purpose of the subsequent high rating of the technical Compliance and effectiveness of the country on the follow- up review, have been directed to institute an internal technical Committee to review the report and work out modalities for the implementation of the FATF by the MDAs.
Umar Gwandu, the spokesperson of the AGF and minister of Justice, had said on Saturday, October 30, 2021, that ‘’ the decision to join the FATF, was in line with’’ the resolve of the government to address once and for all the challenges of money laundering and terrorism funding in the country’’.
The Nigerian government may have known of the likely problem its application of membership of FATF, will encounter, that it has mobilized the support of GIABA. The Nigeria minister had assured the international Community of the country’s Commitment ‘’to addressing money Laundering and terrorism financing in order to ensure a stable and peaceful nation’’.
FATF member nations have every reason to worry about Nigeria Commitment to FATF Standards. This is because of the ease at which funds get into the hands of the Insurgents with ease in the country. Recall that on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, BokoHaram and ISWAPs, Insurgents had hired 20 boats, heading for a meeting onthe Island in the Tumbuns on the Lake Chad region.Many believe that if Nigerian eventually joins FATF, it will go a long way to checkmate the terrorists source of Funds and block it.
Indeed, the security situation in Borno state is so bad that Babagana Zulum, a Professor and governor of the state was forced to caught short his trip to Malam Fatori, a border Community in the state with the neighbouring West African country of Chad, following an attack Launched on his entourage by the Insurgents at the Lake Chad region.
In a related development, despite pressures on the retired Army General to declare the bandits operating in the north western states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, the President home state, Kebbi, Sookoto, the Caliphate state , and the north central state of Niger, including the occasional attacks in Nasarawa, and Taraba, theophilous Danjuma, a retired Army General and former minister of Defence, during the Administration of Olusegun Obasanjo as terrorists to give the military opportunity to deal with them decisively, he has remained reluctant to do so.
Bashir Magashi, a retired Major General and minister of Defence, may have justified why the Federal Government is not in a hurry to designate the bandits as terrorists. He had said that ‘’there are due processes and procedures which must be followed and but which are still being reviewed before the bandits could be designated as bandits’’.
He may have made Nigerians to believe that there was nothing wrong in designating BokoHaram , as terrorists in 2013 and the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOD, under the close watch of Nnamdi, who is still in the Custody of Department of State Service, DSS, as terrorists, in 2017 .
By stating that’’the bandits may be ‘’classified as terrorists on the Completion of the necessary procedure’’, gives an insight that the Nigerian President is not really thinking along that line. Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had said that the Presidential directive to the military to shoot at sight anyone found with gun is enough to give the security agencies personnel powers to deal with the bandits .