In a major breakthrough, the Federal Government announced on Thursday that it successfully seized over N45 billion illegally looted from the national treasury.
The revelation came during the 40th Technical Commission/Plenary Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) held at the State House, Abuja.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, delivered the news, highlighting the government’s commitment to building on past successes in investigating and prosecuting corruption cases.
The government significantly increased budgets for key agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency by almost 95% in 2022.
The intensified efforts resulted in noteworthy achievements, with over 1,500 officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering, leading to 5,118 investigations, 1,509 prosecutions, and nearly 500 convictions since 2021.
The total value of illicit proceeds seized reached a staggering 45 billion naira.
Notably, the government has also made strides in combating the financing of terrorism.
Mr. Fagbemi expressed satisfaction in identifying and designating individuals and entities linked to terrorist activities, with associated funds successfully confiscated.
He credited the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) for its global model status, achieved through legislative empowerment in 2018, enabling it to operate as an independent, autonomous unit.
The AGF outlined the rigorous analysis of money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing risks, emphasizing the need for enhanced international collaborations to address the complex global landscape.
During the event, GIABA Director General, Mr. Edwin Harris Jr., pledged continued technical support to Nigeria while stressing the imperative to restrict the physical movement of criminals and terrorist associates within the West African sub-region.
He proposed expanding GIABA’s mandate to include Asset Recovery, emphasizing freezing, seizure, confiscation, management, and disposal to deny criminals the use of proceeds from crimes.
The director’s call for a regional sanction regime garnered attention, aiming to block the movement of proceeds of crimes and restrict the physical movement of criminals and terrorist associates within the community.
Dignitaries at the event, including the Vice-President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Mr. Jeremy Weil, and the representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Mambury Njie, acknowledged the significance of the achievements and reaffirmed their commitment to collaborative efforts in the ongoing fight against corruption and terrorist financing.
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