N18bn ISWAP Funding: NFIU Says ECOWAS Report Outdated

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Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) yesterday disputed the report of the Inter-governmental Action Group on Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), which stated that terror group, the Islamic State for West African Province ((ISWAP) moved N18 billion annual revenue through Nigeria’s financial system to fund its terrorism activities.

GIABA is a task force set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and a specialised institution of ECOWAS responsible for strengthening the capacity of member states towards the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in the region.

A statement by NFIU said the report alleging that N18 billion ISWAP Funds was laundered through Nigeria’s formal financial system was untrue.

NFIU said the report was “totally outdated and was based on a 2019 country evaluation report which is literally stale and irrelevant today”.

The statement signed by its Chief Media Analyst, Mr. Ahmed Dikko, said: “Nigeria’s counter terrorists financing efforts have practically moved forward since then.

It is to the knowledge of the international community, our populace and the formal media organisations that several arrests were made through the ongoing Operation Service Wide approved by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). The exercise is continuing and far from over”.

In addition, it said, “all funding of violence from all sections of the country are being evidently analysed and reported to all relevant authorities according to law”.

“It is true that recently Nigeria fell victim of illicit financial flows but overt and far reaching efforts are being executed by government to stem the bad practice”.

It said the ECOWAS body released its report to justify putting Nigeria’s financial system under enhanced review process along side other countries in the Sahel.

“We had formally faulted the report to the ECOWAS body while agreeing to partner with them to carry out further review processes to jointly attain global best practices on all counter measures against local and cross border violent crimes disturbing the entire West Africa presently.

“All our neighbours have proofs of our exchange of terrorist financial intelligence with them real time,” the statement said.