Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Hans-Rudolf Hodel,
Chineme Okafor and Aisha Wakaso
The Governments of Nigeria and Switzerland have disclosed their commitments to shut various sources of financing available for terrorist activities and groups in Nigeria and the wider West African sub-region.
This came as Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Tuesday disclosed that corruption was a unifying factor in the country, adding that it is a language understood by everyone.
According to the Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martins Uhomoibhi and the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Hans-Rudolf Hodel, Tuesday in Abuja, the commitment made during the opening of a training workshop on means of countering financing of terrorism, would lead to measures initiated to choke every sources of fund for terrorism.
The workshop which was organised by the West African anti-money laundering group, GIABA, with support from the Swiss Confederation and Nigerian government, brought together anti-money laundering agencies in West African countries, governors of Central Bank of West African states as well as experts in countering terrorists financing under one platform to proffer means of cutting short funding for terrorists.
Uhomoibhi reiterated Nigeria’s commitment in taking all necessary steps to suffocate any means of financial life-line to terrorist activities in the country and beyond, adding that the process is one of the many tools of dealing with the menace of terrorism.
He noted that the prevalence of cash economies, coupled with weak financial control measures amongst other variables makes collaboration with major global financial centres to counter terrorist financiers inevitable.
Uhomoibhi said: “As you are aware, countering the financing of terrorism is one of the major tools in curbing or even eliminating acts of terrorism. Terrorist groups need money to operate. By denying them sources of funding, the prospect of winning the fight against terrorism becomes brighter.
“Given the preponderance of cash economies, weak financial control, ineffective collaboration of national law enforcement agencies as well as international co-operation, it is obvious that the challenge in our region is daunting.”
The permanent secretary also stated that Nigeria was determined to improve its national response to acts of terrorism within the country and that, besides collaborating with sister countries, as well as multilateral organisations, it has also introduced legislative initiatives such as the signing into law of the Terrorism Prevention and Money Laundering Bills by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Hodel in his remarks condemned all acts of terrorism, assuring that the Swiss government had since 1998, through its due diligence law removed the veil from its banking secrecy as part of measures to expose politically exposed persons who bring questionable monies into the country’s banking system.
“It is a core interest of the Swiss financial sector that financial hubs are not misused to launder money and to finance terrorism. Swiss laws and procedures to combat money laundering, corruption and the financing of terrorism are effective means of keeping out illicit funds of politically exposed person,” Hodel said.
Meanwhile, Soyinka who spoke in Minna where he was a keynote speaker at the second Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu’s National Literary Colloquium, said corruption is about the only thing that unites Nigerians.
“Corruption unites us. Very few things unite us in Nigeria as corruption does.”
Soyinka added that corruption has become a status symbol when it should to be treated with total disgust, saying it has affected the growth and development of the country.
“Corruption does not have tribal, ethnic or religious differences. It is a language understood by everyone in Nigeria.”
The Nobel Laureate said the issue of marginalization of any part of the country is not enough reason for crime which includes the increase in the rate of bombings and kidnappings in the country.
He stated that crimes are not as a result of poverty but greed.
“Kidnapping is not because of unemployment but because of greed and criminal tendency to deprive others of their legitimate freedom.”
“We must be able to distinguish between taking up arms against the government and declaring war on the nation.”
Also speaking, the Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, said corruption and terrorism were grievous offences and should be treated with the same seriousness.
“For us, fighting corruption with all seriousness is akin to fighting terrorism by other nations and should be our major pre-occupation,” he said.
Aliyu said the rating of Nigeria as the most corrupt country in Africa by the Transparency International should be of concern to all Nigerians and should not be treated with levity but steps towards tackling corruption should be put in place.
“Before we make any progress at all as a nation, we must first tackle the problem of corruption both at individual, corporate and institutional levels. And we must all become whistle blowers to expose corruption and corrupt officials anywhere they may be found,” he emphasised.