Again, FG Urges ECOWAS to Forge Common Front Against Terrorism Financing

 * Says threat remains a pressing concern 

Alex Enumah and Kasim Sumaina in Abuja 

The Nigerian government on Monday called on member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to forge a common front in the fight against terrorism financing in the subregion. 

This was even as government hinted that the threat of terrorism remains a pressing concern for nations across the globe. 

The government, through the Director/CEO, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Hafsat A. Bakari, made the call at the opening of Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) for ECOWAS Anglophone Member States under the ECOWAS Counter Terrorism Action plan in Abuja. 

Bakari, in her opening remarks at the event, stressed that the insidious nature of terrorism not only threatens the lives of innocent people but also undermines the very fabric of the societies and economies. 

This, according to her, was one of the key pillars in the nation’s collective fight against terrorism and countering the financing that sustains these nefarious activities. 

She said that blocking the channels, routes and techniques used to move these funds within the nations and across the borders requires cooperation not just at a national level but at a regional level. 

“This can only be achieved through a proper understanding and application of the role of the military, intelligence services, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the judiciary in this collective endeavour,” Bakari said.

According to her, the training, which will equip stakeholders with the knowledge, skills and strategies necessary to combat the financing of terrorism effectively, is a step in the right direction.

“This ToT serves as a pivotal platform for us to enhance our understanding of the evolving tactics employed by terrorist organisations to fund their operations.

“Through collaborative efforts and the exchange of best practices, we aim to strengthen our capacity to detect, disrupt, and dismantle the financial networks that enable terrorism to thrive,” Bakari said.

Speaking further, she stated that the training reflects the multi-agency approach championed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and encapsulated in the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the National Counter-Terrorism Financing Strategy.

She however expressed satisfaction with the level of Nigeria’s participation in the training.

Similarly, the Director General, Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Mr. Edwin W. Harris Jr, hinted that money laundering and financing of terrorism continue to adversely impact the socio-economic development, peace and security of ECOWAS member states and beyond. 

He noted that in the last decade, the ECOWAS community experienced an increasing level of terrorism, radicalisation, and violent extremism at an alarming rate.

Harris Jr further said that GIABA’s approach to supporting countries in their fight against the financing of terrorism is to bring their prevention and enforcement systems in line with international standards, particularly those of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). 

He said: “In practice, this means providing countries with appropriate legal and institutional frameworks and building their capacity to implement these frameworks effectively.

“We will intensify efforts to improve our strategic responses to the multi-faceted challenges posed by organised crimes in the region. We would ensure that our responses are sufficiently comprehensive and adequate to address the underlying global, regional, and national factors that trigger, enable and facilitate organised crimes.”

The GIABA boss however promised that GIABA will continue to provide the required leadership and space for member states to accelerate their compliance with international AML/CFT measures.

On his part, the Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi, said that countering the financing of terrorism was a collective responsibility that demands international cooperation and collaboration. 

Bichi, represented by the Director of Training and Staff Development, DSS, Mrs. Bolatito Sure-Olufe, explained that terrorist financing networks often span multiple jurisdictions, exploiting vulnerabilities in financial systems and regulatory gaps. 

Bichi noted that the train-the-trainer workshop represents a crucial step in enhancing “our collective capacity to identify, trace and disrupt illicit financial flows that sustain terrorist organizations”.

According to him, “By strengthening our ability to follow the money trail, we can deprive these groups of the resources they need to carry out their heinous acts, ultimately contributing to a more secure and peaceful world for all.”

The workshop, which will last for two weeks, drew participants from the English speaking countries of ECOWAS.

The workshop is organised by GIABA.

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