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Terrorism financing: Stakeholders call for timely judicial process

Stakeholders have identified a timely judicial process as part of ways to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism. At the…

Stakeholders have identified a timely judicial process as part of ways to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism.

At the workshop titled: “Stakeholders Engagement with Relevant Government Agencies Aimed at Strengthening Nigeria’s AML/CFT Framework”, experts sought to identify specific gaps in judicial processes and institutional frameworks that hinder effective Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) prosecutions and asset confiscation, return, and transparent asset data management.

It was also targeted at evaluating the current capability of the judiciary and relevant agencies in handling ML/TF cases.

The organisers said the workshop would inform the development of targeted capacity-building initiatives and policy guidelines to design for Nigeria.

Speaking to journalists, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, the Executive Director of Africa Centre for Governance, Asset Recovery and Sustainable Development, said there was a need to have a timely judicial process in the country.

“Our judges are capable of doing their work but we are looking at the time the judicial decisions come out and we are really working with the judiciary to make sure that the timeliness of judicial pronouncement works in a way that it engenders confidence and trust among citizens,” the former presidential aide said.

Speaking earlier, Dr Nkechikwu Azinge-Egbiri from the University of Lancaster’s Law School, said efforts at the workshop are focused on the delisting of Nigeria from the financial action taskforce grey list while also strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to ensure its compliance with the global anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

While applauding Nigeria’s efforts to fight illicit financial flow, she said the country is one of a few others that have designated judges to handle money laundering and terrorism financing cases.

“Today we are looking at how to improve our systems whether you are talking about investigation, prosecution or gathering intelligence”, she said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Joy Malala, Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick’s Law School, said there was a growing number of African countries featuring in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), grev list that needs urgent consideration.

The FATF as a global standard-setter for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) ensures a coordinated global response to organised crime, corruption and the threats posed by terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

According to her, Nigeria is currently grey-listed by the FATF.

“A shared approach to mitigating the risk of listing now needs to be documented. New guidance seeks to assist countries in complying with standards on beneficial ownership transparency for legal entities and arrangements, as set out under FATF Recommendations 24 and 25.

“However, many counties require additional support in reaching the higher bar that recent revisions to these recommendations have set.

“In addition, FATF has begun to broaden its focus from primary compliance to the effectiveness of these recommendations for AML/FT policy aims in a country.

“In this regard, the objective of this workshop is to invite discussion on Nigeria’s actions and experience to better inform and prepare other currently listed countries including Kenya and establish the roles of the various state actors and various international and regional organizations.

While acknowledging the significant strides that Nigeria had made in recent years to strengthen its AML/CFT regime, she said being grey-listed by the FATF in February 2023 serves as a sobering reminder of the ongoing challenges that persist within the country’s financial ecosystem.

“We will delve into the root causes of Nigeria’s grey-listing, examining the identified challenges in depth and seeking innovative solutions to address them.

“Through today’s discussions, we aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the implications of grey-listing and explore strategies to expedite Nigeria’s removal from the watchlist,” she said.

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