We’re tracking those selling forex to fund terrorism – NFIU

September 25, 2021

2.6 min readCategories: News

 

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit says it has information on the sale of foreign exchange to fund terrorism in the country and has launched a manhunt for the perpetrators.

The unit said it had achieved some breakthroughs in recent times through intelligence gathering on the illicit transaction.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, had at a  Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja last Friday, alleged that Bureaux de Change operators were funding terrorism and kidnapping in the country.

He had said, “We have unwittingly supported activities of those who illegally buy foreign exchange from this illegal market, carry them in aircraft out of the country, go to buy arms and ammunition and bring them back into the country and commit crimes whether it is Boko Haram, kidnapping or all sorts of nefarious activities. We cannot do that any longer.”

At a three-day workshop organised in Lagos during the week by the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa, Associate Director, Intelligence and Investigation Support, NFIU, Mrs Biola Shotunde, confirmed Emefiele’s claim while fielding questions from journalists.

She said, “Yes, we have intelligence gathering that shows us those patterns and we have worked on that. We have used such intelligence appropriately and that is why we have recorded some successes. Our engagement with other agencies is enormous and proactive. It is an ongoing effort and we are becoming stronger.”

She, however, did not go into details when asked the number of persons arrested in connection with the crime.

Shotunde lamented that tracking undocumented financial flow, such as ransoms paid to kidnappers, was difficult but said the unit would continue to explore inter-agency cooperation.

“With inter-agency cooperation and non-financial analysis like using the IP address, we link the cash to individuals and sometimes we are successful in tracking those kidnappers,” she added.

While delivering a speech on behalf of the agency’s director, Modibbo Tukur, Shotunde said the risk of criminals exploiting loopholes in enforcement and intelligence systems should be given maximum attention in countries such as Nigeria with extensive land and sea borders connecting it via regional and international trade to other parts of the world.

The programme was tagged ‘National Workshop on the Prevention of Cross Border Bulk Cash Smuggling.’

Tukur stated, “It is in this regard that the Egmont Group of FIUs, the global network of Financial Intelligence Units and the World Customs Organisation collaborated on the development of the ‘Customs-FIU Cooperation Handbook.’ This collaborative effort highlighted the importance of timely, efficient and effective communication systems between key agencies such as the NCS, NFIU and EFCC to address the risk of international money laundering and terrorist financing.”

In his goodwill message, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali, said terrorism, kidnapping and banditry were connected to cross border cash smuggling, noting that joint efforts should be made to curb the trend.

The CG, represented by the acting Deputy Comptroller-General, Enforcement, Elton Edorhe, said the training was targeted at equipping participants with skills that could help to mitigate the threat of cross border bulk cash smuggling.

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