Fred Itua, Abuja
The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has revealed plans to commence series of activities to check widespread criminal and fraudulent actions, specifically by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and some foreign firms operating in the country.
NFIU said some of the identified crimes were financing of terrorism, illegal mining as well as proliferation of weapons.
Director of NFIU, Mr. Modibbo Hamman-Tukur, disclosed this in Abuja during the 2019 sub-regional conference on illicit financial flow and assets recovery with the theme: ‘Increasing citizens’ participation in curbing the illicit flow and repatriation of stolen funds within and from West Africa” organised by Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).
Hamman-Tukur also revealed that the anti-graft agency has started reversing some of the transactions of the people arrested in the United States for internet scam.
“As recent as Friday, we were still reversing some of the transactions of those few people arrested in the US, reversing the monies back to their main coffers.”
He stressed that the country presently has over 52,000 registered NGOs in its database, noting those that were not qualified would be deregistered and would not allow to function again.
The anti-graft boss said the agency has already been meeting with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as part of collaboration to deregister all the fake NGOs.
“Nigeria have 52,000 registered NGOs and we are developing a Master plan to deregister many NGOs in other to control the financial flow. We want to know the ideal civil society organisations because some of the NGO don’t pay taxes but will always use it to get money abroad. If the NGOs need to merge themselves, they must do that early because it will be better for them. Most of them are in the finanaical environment but not funtioning as NGOs.
“We are working with the CAC to deregister NGOs engaged in proliferation of weapons. Indicted officials will be deported.
“We are going to look at foreign companies doing criminal work here in Nigeria. We are also looking at Chinese, Indian and other companies doing illegal mining in the country. Some of these companies have been taking advantage of our environment but we will bring them to justice just the same way we are trying to bring to justice those Nigerians doing criminal things abroad.”
Tukur noted that with the financial crimes taking place all over the world, continental and regional cooperation were needed to tackle the menace.
“The West African single currency will create a massive economic environment but that won’t happen without illicit financial inflow which we must be ready to tackle,” he stated.
He said the signing of the free trade agreement by president Muhammadu Buhari meant that Nigerian borders would be opened for other countries to come and do business since Nigeria have the largest economy and population in the subregion.
“Nigeria is the leading financial institution in West Africa because almost all the banks are owned by Nigerians who are influencing the financial operation of North and Central Africa. But the systems are coming under attacks with the illicit financial inflow,” Tukur said.
He urged countries into which monies belonging to Nigeria has been illegally transfered to return them.
On terrorism financing, the NFIU boss stated: “Nigerians abroad have to embrace discipline because we know that must of them are hardworking. You can’t run to another country and start attacking your brothers. So, we are working with the NIA, police, immigration and other security agencies to ensure that we end such transaction.
“What is happening in the North East is not a Nigerian problem alone but an international issue. The killings happening even in Zamfara is also not only a Nigerian issue and they kept happening because of the illicit financial inflow people used to fund terrorism and banditary. So, what is happening in the North East and the Northwestern state of Zamfara is an international crime.
“As a result of illicit financial inflow, foreigners come to the country and kill Nigerians. It’s not that Nigerians are killing each other; foreigners are involved and they get funding from these CSOs.
The keynote speaker who is also the Special Adviser to the president on Economic Matters, office of the vice president, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, said ilicit financial flow in Africa is on the increase.
He said there was need for political will to address the illicit financial flow adding that transparency was also what the people should look at.