By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has organized a 2019 Sub-regional Conference on Illicit Financial Flow and Assets Recovery aimed at checking wide range of criminal and fraudulent actions.
With the theme: ‘Increasing Citizens’ Participation in Curbing the Illicit Flow and Repatriation of Stolen Funds within and From West Africa, the Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju said the program is also about the concern of the level of illicit financial flow within and out of West Africa but most especially the level of poverty it bring around.
Mr. Suraju sated this at the 2019 Sub-regional Conference on Illicit Financial Flow and Assets Recovery on Tuesday, 27th August, 2019, saying with the economic migration and the resources adequately domical in west Africa, citizens would have a lot to do in term of employment generations, prosperity and infrastructure development that would have reduced the level of migrations experiencing from Africa to Europe.
According to him, the citizens have a very critical role to play setting not only agenda for the government to follow but in monitoring government programs and activities around the issues of illicit financial flow and money laundering.
“We need to increase the participation of the citizens of the West Africa Sub-Region and now we are working at the English speaking to see how we take part in the process of the policy formulations and program implementation around the issue.
“There is no way you can find constructive and serious fight against criminality when the citizens are not involved especially, when it just left to government relationship. So we are talking about where it is not just a vertical relationship but where you have horizontal aspect of it adequately taken care of.
“Our expectations is to see how the citizens and participants here will come out with program action for which they would want to engage the multilateral agencies, the diplomatic circle, the local and national law enforcement agencies, the CSOs and the media will propagate the issue of the illicit financial flow as a major impediment development in Africa” He said
In his address, the Director General of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Alhaji Modibbo Haman Tukur said the Unit has commenced repatriation of monies illegally transferred into the country by 80 Nigerians charged in a California district court for cybercrimes.
He said the Unit is collaborating with the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigeria Police to deport officials of some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) engaged in proliferation of weapons through illicit financial inflow.
According to him, Chinese, Indian and other international companies engaged in illegal mining in Nigeria would be sanction to curb illicit financial inflow, adding that with the financial crimes taking place all over the world, continental and regional co-operation is needed to tackle the menace.
“The West African Single Currency will create a massive economic environment but that won’t happened without illicit financial inflow which we must be ready to tackle. The signing of the free trade agreement by President Buhammadu Buhari, Nigerian borders will be open for other countries to come and do businesses since Nigeria have the largest economy and population in the sub region.
“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” DG Modibbo said.
Speaking, the Director of International Press Centre (IPC), Mr Lanre Arogundade was of the opinion that NGOs are registered with the corporate affairs commission and liaise with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning but added that if the NFIU plans to deregister NGOs will be for the best interest of Nigeria, it should be embrace.
“All NGOs are to register with ministry of Budget and National Planning after registration with CAC but with the NFIU coming with this statement, what is important is for the process to be made open,” Lanre said.
While the Keynote Speaker who is also the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Economic Matters, office of the Vice President, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, said illicit financial flow in Africa is on the increase, pointing out that there was need for political will to address the illicit financial flow and advised the citizens to look at transparency.
“With transparency, illicit financial inflow will stop. People must insist on transparent management of resources and illegal financial flow,” he said.