Alex Enumah in Abuja
As part of measures aimed at tackling illicit flow of funds in the country, the federal government disclosed wednesday in Abuja that it had begun the profiling of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country to determine their level of vulnerability as conduit for money laundering as well as terrorism financing.
The Director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Francis Usani, who disclosed this at a workshop on â€˜Development of Effective Frameworks and Structure to Fight against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing through Non Profit Organisations (NPOs)â€™, said the move was not to stifle the operations of NGOs but to make them less susceptible to criminals.
â€œRecently, the budget office was doing something to address some deficient NGOs and also engaging the NFIU to profile some NGOs in the country.
â€œI think this is going to be a continuous exercise to profile and see the NGOs that are actually committed to their main cause and those not committed to any cause will probably be delisted and maybe their registrations removed.
â€œThere has been this clamour and misunderstanding by some NGOs who had come out to oppose the regulations put in place by the government but these are for international best practices but we cannot just let NGOs to run around the streets of Nigeria unmonitored or uncoordinated otherwise this will lead to serious problems.
â€œThe profiling has started; this is my office, and a few days ago, I received a list of NGOs to profile,â€ he said.
According to Usani, the enormous public trust the sector enjoys both locally and internationally has made the sector a target by terrorists and other criminals in facilitating their illicit activities.
He, however, sought the collaboration and cooperation of the NGOs in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing within the sector.
â€œThis workshop is for consistency to drive home the message; it is just very crucial that NPOs need to be sensitised because most of them do not really understand their obligations under the AML/ CFT regulations and laws.
â€œLike obligations to report transactions to the relevant authorities, to keep record of their transactions, as well as to conduct due diligence on their sponsors.
â€œThese are necessary because they could ignorantly receive donor funds from people whose aims are basically to finance terrorism or maybe cause some kind of mayhem.
â€œThey need to be sensitised and made conscious of their responsibilities to enable them report their transactions,â€ he said.
Similarly, the Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Kimelabalou Aba, while stating that NPOs play a key role in the development of our countries, lamented that of late, they have been used by terrorists or terrorist organisations to raise funds.
The Director General said it was within that framework that GIABA organised the workshop.
â€œThis workshop is directed towards reporting entities namely NPOs in order to help them to be better equipped so as not to be used for terrorist purposes.
â€œThe FATF recommendations call for countries to put in place rigorous measures to ensure that NPOs are not used for terrorist financing purposes,â€ he said.