Recently, the Nigeria Central Bank (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele called on banking institutions, security agencies and other relevant stakeholders in the financial system to redouble efforts at combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF).
Emefiele who spoke in Abuja at a regional workshop, noted that money laundering and terrorist financing are twin evils, which all agencies should continuously focus on in order to avert their deleterious effects on the economy.
Without doubt, we support the admonition of the CBN boss to those in charge of financial transaction in the country to be pro-active in the discharge of their duties to quickly detect and track down those channeling illegal funds to terrorist groups.
We all know that terrorist financing has becoming a source of worry to many countries in the world, especially those at the receiving end of international terrorism.
Incidentally, Nigeria is one of the countries that have been facing terrorist activities by Boko Haram militants in the past five years with no signs of abating.
Unfortunately, the insurgency has not only claimed thousands of lives in the north east of the country, the jihadist group has also destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
Over the years, many have wondered where the Boko Haram is getting its funding to mount such large-scale assault on the Nigerian military and other government institutions.
There is no denying the fact that Boko Haram begun as a small innocuous religious group that did not attract attention of the authorities, until it grew into a dreadful monster that is now destroying everything in its path.
As Mr. Emefiele observed: “A docile environment invariably disposes its financial system to money laundering/financing of terrorism activities, even as products and services offered by financial institutions provide a veritable avenue for criminals to launder funds and terrorist financiers to move funds across various jurisdictions.
” We cannot but agree with this postulation. The fact remains that money laundering and terrorism financing remain little understood concepts in Nigeria, as they are complex and complicated affairs whose complexity is exacerbated by an interconnected, globalised world.
Contrary to the popular notion of barbarians stuck in the past, terrorists are very modern savages who have shown to be very adept at utilising the communication technology revolution and the esoteric global finance market to their advantage.
In an age where money flies across the world in an instant and where the tracks of such transactions are covered up very well by skilled accountants, exposing and arresting financers of terrorism is a tall order. Of course, terrorist organisations rely on numerous sources of income and they use a range of methods to move funds.
They also, raise funds through inherently criminal means such as drug trafficking and through legitimate activities as donations.
We are therefore calling for greater cooperation between financial institutions, governments as well as other stakeholders, in order to combat the menace of financing of terrorist organisations and their money laundering channels.
Moreover, financial institutions should prevent terrorist organisations from accessing their services; even as they are expected to assist in, detecting suspected terrorist financing and promptly responds to law enforcement enquiries.