Nigeria Moves To Join Global Task Force Action On Money Laundering And Terrorists Financing

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.

BokoHaram Insurgents

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: AGF & Minister Of Justice

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.

Insurgents Attack On Governor Zulum’s Envoy At The Lake Chad Region

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 .   

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