From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The Federal Government has identified 96 financiers of terrorism, involving about 123 companies, including 33 bureaux de change.
Government has also identified 26 bandits and seven co-conspirators linked to financing of terrorism in Nigeria.
Also, 424 associates of the terrorism were identified, with 45 suspects arrested and to be prosecuted.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed these at a press conference on government’s anti-corruption war, in Abuja, yesterday.
These discoveries were made by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) between 2020 and 2021.
The NFIU, the minister added, identified N7.647trillion VAT, WHT hidden from govt.
However, Mohammed neither revealed the names of the terrorism financiers nor those holding onto the N7.674 trillion owed the Federal Government.
He said: “For its part, the analysis by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), in 2020-2021, the minister said, revealed 96 financiers of terrorism in Nigeria, 424 associates/supporters of the financiers, involvement of about 123 companies and 33 bureaux de change, in addition to identifying 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and 7 co-conspirators.
“The analysis has resulted in the arrest of 45 suspects who will soon face prosecution and seizure of assets. Also, from its analysis of tax evasion and tax avoidance linked to corruption. NFIU has identified N3,909,707,678,112.in VAT and N3,737,918,335,785.in Withholding Tax due to the government.
“NFIU has also sent 1,165 intelligence reports on cases of corruption, money laundering and other serious offences to 27 domestic agencies for investigation, prosecution and asset recovery…”
Last September, Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Shehu Malami tsaid in New York, the US that, in addition to identifying and detaining high profile individuals with links to terrorism in the country, the Federal Government had succeeded in blocking the sources of funding.
Four months earlier, the Justice minister had said that government would prosecute about 400 suspected Boko Haram financiers and was profiling some high-profile Nigerians strongly suspected to be financing terrorism for prosecution.
Nevertheless, at the media parley, yesterday, the Information Minister added that government has, so far, recovered N700 billion through its whistleblower policy.
The minister also disclosed that through deployment of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) to verify the federal government’s payroll on the IPPIS platform, so far led to the detection of 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries.
He said:”It is common knowledge that one of the most difficult tasks for any government is to fight corruption, because when you fight corruption, corruption will fight you back! This explains why naysayers have continued to belittle or dismiss the Administration’s anti-corruption efforts.
“Let me say here that fighting corruption is a marathon, and never a sprint. Also, investigations, arrests, prosecutions and asset forfeiture – which are the immediate, visible indices by which many measure success in tackling corruption, constitute – as important as they are – just a part of the strategies to combat corruption…
“Also, against stiff opposition, the Buhari Administration has expanded the coverage of IPPIS. TSA and IPPIS remain an unfolding revolution in public finance in Nigeria that have incorporated transparency and accountability into the system. The use of BVN to verify the Federal Government’s payroll on the IPPIS platform has, so far, led to the detection of 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries…The Whistle-blower Policy, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning… is meant to encourage the voluntary disclosure of information about fraud, bribery and looted government funds, including financial misconduct and any other form of corruption or theft.
“The Whistle Blower whose information leads to recovery is entitled to 2.5 to 5 percent from the recovered funds. Information and tips received are usually referred to the EFCC, ICPC, and NFIU for further painstaking investigation. The policy has helped in the cleansing of IPPIS, led to compliance on TSA and enhanced the Procurement Act 2007. As at 2020, a total of N700 billion has been recovered through the Whistle-Blower Policy.”
Mohammed also explained that, contrary to public perception, it is not in all cases that the whistle blower gets a reward.
“Tips or information are forwarded to ICPC, police, EFCC. They are to confirm if truly the person is a whistleblower or not. It’s only when your whistle blowing leads to recovery that he/she is paid. Not before,” he added.