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N18bn ISWAP funds: Report by ECOWAS body outdated, irrelevant, NFIU says

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The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has described a report by an ECOWAS body alleging that about N18 billion ISWAP funds was laundered through Nigeria’s formal financial system as stale and outdated.

Persecondnews.com recalls that the Inter-governmental Action Group on Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), had reported that the terror group, Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), moved N18 billion annual revenue through the Nigerian financial system to fund its activities.

GIABA is a task force and specialized institution set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responsible for strengthening the capacity of member states towards the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in the region.

Reacting to the report, NFIU said the story is “totally outdated and was based on a 2019 country evaluation report which is literally stale and irrelevant today”.

It said in a statement issued by its Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko, and made available to Persecondnews on Monday, that Nigeria’s counter terrorists financing efforts have practically moved forward since then.

“It is to the knowledge of the international community, our populace and the formal media organisations that several arrests were made through the on going Operation Service Wide approved by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). The exercise is continuing and far from over.

“In addition, all funding of violence from all sections of the country are being evidently analysed and reported to all relevant authorities according to law.

“It’s true that recently Nigeria fell a victim of illicit financial flows, but overt and far reaching efforts are being executed by government to stem the bad practice,” NFIU said.

According to the NFIU, the ECOWAS body released its report to justify putting Nigeria’s financial system under enhanced review process along side other countries in the Sahel.

“We had formally faulted the report to the ECOWAS body while agreeing to partner with them to carry out further review processes to jointly attain global best practices on all counter measures against local and cross border violent crimes disturbing the entire West Africa presently.

“All our neighbours have proofs of our exchange of terrorist financial intelligence with them real time,” the statement said.

Persecondnews also recalls that the Federal Government was criticized for its apparent failure to track the movement of funds by the terrorist groups — Boko Haram and ISWAP — through the country’s financial system despite the trial and conviction of terror sponsors from Nigeria by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia which made available intelligence on the convicted terror financiers to Nigeria.

 

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