Vice-President Namadi Sambo
By Muhammad Bello
The federal government has constituted a cabinet committee, headed by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, to accelerate the removal of Nigeria from the countries blacklisted by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), the global watchdog on money laundering and counter financing terrorism.
The committee during its maiden meeting in Abuja Tuesday pledged to ensure that Nigeria is delisted.
FATF had in February 2012, blacklisted Nigeria along with 17 countries that were labelled as high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions.
By virtue of this categorisation, all the countries were seen as not committed to an action plan to tackle money laundering and other international financial crimes in their nations. The other countries include Bolivia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Sao Tome and Principe, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand and Turkey.
Previously in a June 2001 report, Nigeria, Egypt, Grenada, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Burma and Ukraine were included in a supplemental report in September and listed as non-cooperative.
Sambo, according to a statement by his spokesperson, Alhaji Sani Umar, during the meeting, stressed that the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration believed that with the measures already put in place regarding laws and regulations, Nigeria, should not continue to remain on the FATF list.
He noted that in a deliberate attempt to accelerate the delisting of Nigeria by FATF, Jonathan had constituted the high-powered committee, charging members to work assiduously to ensure that they discharged their mandate effectively.
He said: “I urge you all to work hard towards ensuring that we maintain the integrity of our financial system through effective implementation of laws and regulations against financial improprieties.”
Sambo towards this end directed the immediate sanitisation of the country’s international airports, particularly the enforcement of currency regime declaration by travellers.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on FATF, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, noted that the presidential committee had made considerable in-roads in ensuring that Nigeria was removed from the FATF list, particularly in areas of strict implementation of rules and regulations in the financial system.