Posted by Emmanuel Onwubiko | 7 October 2014 | 3,819 times
As the House of Representatives has just resumed from a long break, Nigerians expect the Aminu Waziri Tambuwal-led lower arm of the legislature to face headlong, the concurrence of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Centre (NFIC) Bill, already passed in the Senate. This will give rise to the creation of an independent Nigerian Financial Intelligence Centre, from the erstwhile Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit that used to be under the control of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has not so far made significant inroads into discovering and unmasking the funding masterminds of the armed terrorists: Boko Haram.
It is a universal knowledge now that the dreaded terrorists that have wreaked havoc on Nigerians, known as Boko Haram, has steadily grown from a rag-tag group that it was when it first reared its ugly head in 2009, under the leadership of the late Mohammed Yusuf. This deadly sect has metamorphosed into a sophisticated fighting machine, conquering and taking territories with apparent ease and bombing selected targets at will.
Behind the emergence and growing sophistication of the terror group, is no doubt a well heeled and complex web of multilateral funding, running into billions of dollars. That means that the terrorists enjoy very robust support of wealthy, well connected individuals, groups and organisations facilitated through well thought out money laundering schemes for the financing of their terrorist activities.
Consequently it is very clear to every discerning mind that the most effective way of tackling terrorism would be the unmasking of those persons who provide the financial backing that these evil persons rely upon to finance their terrorist activities. Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has joined forces with over 24 non-governmental bodies to carry out advocacy campaign in support of the National Assembly, to pass into law this executive bill that is well thought out by the President Good luck Jonathan-led administration to create an independent Financial Intelligence Centre to fully track and prosecute sponsors of terrorism and other heinous crimes against the Nigerian state.
It is against the foregoing background that the whole world through the United Nations came up with the formation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF): “The global coordinating body for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML / CFT) efforts” and has also been described as the “international standard setter on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its Recommendation29, requires that countries should establish a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that would serve as a national centre for the receipt and analysis of (a) Suspicious Transaction Reports and (b) other information relevant to money laundering, associated predicate offences, terrorism financing and for the dissemination of the result of that analysis to law enforcement agencies (LEAs), anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) and other AML /CFT stakeholders, otherwise known as competent authorities.
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) also made a similar provision under its Article 14 to the effect that “…countries shall consider the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit to serve as a national centre for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information regarding potential money laundering.”
In the late 1990s, Nigeria was viewed negatively by the international community as a pariah state that appears not to be cooperating in the global war against Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism: because the country had no legal frame work to tackle the twin monster of money laundering and financing of terrorism. As a matter of fact, Nigeria was blacklisted as a non-cooperating nation by the Financial Action Task Force.
It was, therefore, in the light of the foregoing pressure by the international community, spearheaded by the FATF, that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2004, established the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, domiciled in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. It became operational in 2005. The ongoing revolutionary effort by the Executive Council of the Federation, headed by President Jonathan, to make NFIC independent and effective must be supported by all and sundry; particularly Speaker Tambuwal and the House leadership that have consistently called for stiffer sanctions to be imposed for acts of corruption and money laundry.
Tambuwal, Sokoto State-born attorney-at-law and constitutional lawyer, before his election to the House has been a legislative and social activist, who was in the forefront of the campaign against corruption. The House Committee Chairman on anti-corruption, Mr. Adams Jagaba, is also a man with the patriotic zeal to ensure that the national campaign to eradicate corruption becomes even more effective and efficient. Nigerians believe that the House will concur in no time to this NFIC bill.
•RIGHTSVIEW appears twice a week on Wednesday and Saturdays. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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