EFCC Considers Use Of Tech To Combat Terrorism Financing, Tracking Naira

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Wednesday has said it is furthering its move on the use of technology to track every Naira note in circulation to block the illicit flow of monies into the hands of terrorists.

This was stated by the Executive Chairman (EFCC) Ola Olukoyede, in a goodwill message delivered at a Multi-stakeholder Meeting on Terrorism Financing and Violent Extremism in the North-East, organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International in Nigeria, TI-Nigeria, financed by GIABA-ECOWAS.

Olukoyede expressed worry over the dimension terrorism financing has taken, he disclosed that the EFCC has discovered platforms other than Binance, some are being used for terrorism financing, and over a thousand such accounts were closed.

 

He said: “The challenge before us, is to seek solutions to end this decade-long nightmare and restore order to the troubled region. The quest for a solution is not entirely new. Several conferences and workshops have been convoked, yet the situation remains dire.

“For us in the EFCC, like most Nigerians, the concern is how this crisis continues to defy solutions and fester. How is it that the terrorist groups in the region can sustain their operations, acquire more sophisticated weaponry, and engage in daring combat with the Nigerian military?

“It would seem that an economy of criminality has developed around terrorism and violent extremism in the region, where actors who are profiting from the chaos do not cherish the return of civil order. How for instance do we explain the activities of supposed non-profit organisations who profess to want to provide succor to the distressed but end up exploiting their misery for financial gains? How do we explain the actions of unscrupulous actors who hide under the cover of humanitarian activities to fund terrorist groups? These are issues that we must continue to interrogate.

“The EFCC has had cause to prosecute so-called promoters of Non-Profit Organization who exploited the desperate conditions in the North-east to profiteer. I am sure many of you are aware of a lady that is called Mama Boko Haram, who at the peak of the insurgency positioned herself as a credible intermediary for the insurgents, but is now in jail for exploiting the distressed citizens of the North east for personal gain.

“Part of the focus of the EFCC in the quest to tackle terrorism and violent extremism in that region is to follow the trail of critical actors in the region and cut off the supply line of illicit funds to known criminal groups. This responsibility has seen the Commission pay more attention to the movement of funds by NPOs in the region, who are now required to make a declaration to the EFCC.

“Some of our discoveries recently, we went into investigating some of these platforms was mind-boggling. We thought Binance was a major one, yes a major one, and we are prosecuting them, but much more, other platforms were discovered, of course, you are aware that EFCC froze over a thousand accounts, and it will shock you what some of those accounts are used for, and some of them are used to fund terrorism activities.

“You can imagine the dimension the whole problem is taking and so it is important for us to have adopt the use of technology, and that is what we are going into to see how we can adopt technology to be able to track every Naira.”

Also, in a goodwill, the Chairman, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), ICPC, Dr Musa Aliyu, SAN, said, “ICPC is fully committed to contributing its expertise and resources to this fight. We are prepared to intensify our efforts in financial oversight, enhance our investigative and prosecutorial capacities, and work closely with all stakeholders to disrupt the financial networks that fuel terrorism.”

Earlier, in an address of welcome, the Executive Director, CISLAC and Head of Transperency International (TI) Nigeria, Awual Rafsanjani, alleged that banks offer opportunities for terrorism financing.

According to Rafsanjani, “The financial sector, has been exploited for terrorism financing. The use of the financial sector indicates the increasing capabilities of some terrorist groups. These include the Bureau de Change operators, Point of Sale (POS) devices, wire transfers, and designated non-financial businesses and professions, among other enabling platforms expanding the scope and depth of terrorism financing.

“It is worrisome that illegal money exchangers, including Bureau De Change have been featured in several terrorism financing investigations. The 2022 National Inherent Risk Assessment of Terrorism Financing report reveals that between 2019 and 2022, about 19 companies were linked to illegal money exchangers who have used their companies to co-mingle funds considered to be linked to Terrorism Financing.”