To curb terrorism financing, Nigeria must beam its searchlight on the activities of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said.
The EFCC boss spoke Tuesday at a retreat for newly elected governors organised by the Nigerian Governors Forum in Abuja. He made a lead presentation on the fight against corruption.
Mr Magu urged Nigerian governors to focus attention on NGOs, “because they are the arm that strengthens these bandits.”
In its report last year, the UN said the number of doctrinally based NGOs sending funds to local terrorist groups was growing.
The report also identified extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping as parts of ways Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin region are funded.
Mr Magu noted that some NGOs are the major source of fund for terrorist organisations.
He said the anti-graft agency intercepted about N45 million from an NGO two weeks ago.
“We discovered that there is a lot of corruption and illicit financial flow in their operations,” he said.
After a bill to regulate NGOs failed in the National Assembly, PREMIUM TIMES reported last April how the government was planning to profile NGOs.
The profiling, the federal government said, was to ensure compliance with regulations against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Mr Magu, who holds the rank of a police commissioner, also spoke on ways of monitoring the trend of terrorism financing, especially through the banking services. He said checking money laundering through banking systems will help cut down funding for terror organizations.
He said Nigeria has a robust anti-money laundering and terrorism financing framework but “the problem is that some of these transactions do not follow the official channels”.
“Subject to the provision anti-money laundering act (2011) is that no person makes a single N5 million transaction without going through the money laundering checks. The essence of this is to ensure that such transactions are captured in the banking system.
“The question is why it is that even with this framework and necessary checks on the banking systems, the terrorist organisations still have access to funds.
“The only explanation is that such transactions do not follow official channels. This means that all transactions that pass through financial institutions are not captured.”
Illicit Financial Flow
Mr Magu described illicit financial flow as a major problem not just in Nigeria but in the whole of Africa.
Africa is estimated to be losing over $80 billion annually through illicit financial flows.
The official accused some Nigerian leaders of using government money to fund their lavish lifestyles in foreign climes.
He said properties and monies stashed away overseas by Nigerian officials are, most times, lost.
The EFCC chairman urged state governors to partner with anti-corruption agencies in the fight against corruption.