President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed into law three bills aimed at improving the anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing/proliferation frameworks in the country to further underscore his resolve to fight to finish the two crimes in our society.
The bills were the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022; the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022 and the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022.
The fight against corruption and securing the nation are two of the three major cardinal campaign policy thrust of the PMB administration. Since then President Buhari has deliberately made conscious strategic policy decisions to deal with the monsters.
There is no doubt in the fact that, as the President stated, the bills are in tandem with his administration’s commitment to fight corruption and illicit financing activities, as well as critical to the governance agenda and the development of Nigeria.
It is expected that the new laws have provided enough punitive measures and containment strategies against abuses and compromises while the inadequacy of all the repealed Acts had impacted legal actions against offenders.
It is therefore very heartwarming to hear the President further say: “We will not rest until we rid the nation of the menace of money laundering, terrorism, and other financial crimes.”
President Buhari had several times commended the National Assembly members for their “tenacity, courage and commitment” in ensuring that Nigeria puts in place effective measures to address the menace of money laundering, terrorism, and terrorism financing.
To underscore the importance of the legislations, the President did emphasize that the signing of these bills into law not only strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism, AML/CFT framework in the Country, but addresses the deficiencies identified in Nigeria’s second round of Mutual Evaluation as assessed by Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa on compliance with the Financial Action Task Force global standards.
Accordingly, the repeal of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and enactment of Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 provides a comprehensive legal and Institutional Framework for the prevention and prohibition of money laundering in Nigeria and confers on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the legal status of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering.
The enactment of the Proceeds of Crime (recovery and Management) Act, 2022 makes comprehensive provisions for the seizure, confiscation, forfeiture and management of properties derived from unlawful activity.
He explained that the new law mandates the creation of dedicated accounts for the proceeds of crime and other confiscated assets in order to enhance the accountability of the process.
Taking into consideration the various gaps created by lack of synergy by government staff in MDAs, the President was forthcoming in acknowledging the challenge it poses to execution of government programmes and activities,
Stressing the emphasis placed on collaboration, synergy and unification of strategies and measures to combat the scourge of Money Laundering and terrorism financing and proliferation financing in the Act.
It must be noted that the primary objectives of these measures are to ensure effective, unified and comprehensive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the implementation of the Acts.
Well meaning Nigerians have expressed profound satisfaction with measures taken by government and called for coordinated responses to the challenges posed by the menace, expressing the hope that the robust frameworks diligently enshrined in the Acts can only serve useful purposes when every bit of them is enforced.
It is however pertinent to emphasis that the fight against corruption requires an “All of Government, All of Nation approach,” and that every Nigerian has a role to play to rid the country of corrupt practices.
It must be further noted that the bills were clear demonstration of government functioning at its best with coordination, collaboration, and execution towards a common goal.
The assurance by President Buhari that his administration would continue to do its best to secure the nation, adding that the bills signed into law represent not just legislative instruments but very significant governmental actions projecting courage, determination, and sincerity in tackling the menace of Money laundering, terrorism and other financial crimes, must be taken seriously and without any doubts.
It is therefore quite encouraging that the Federal Government had admitted it was already winning the war against bandits and terrorists, noting that Nigerians are only experiencing occasional flashes of attacks on soft targets.
According to the government, the number of bandits and terrorist attacks was decreasing, saying more criminals were being apprehended.
Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola did say at the launch of the Nigeria Internal Security and Public Safety Alert System, N-Alerts held in Abuja.
As part of the response to this challenge, the Ministry of Interior had developed this application, a technological innovation that works with the smart mobile phone or any other device with Android or IOS capability to send alerts to all security agencies in real-time.
The N-Alerts application uses audio-visual and geospatial location identification of the caller and scenes of incidents on the Ministry Inter-Agency Situation Room, MISR and Command and Control Centres, dashboards of the four services and police headquarters for joint inter-agency operations.
In the words of the Minister, the good news is that government is winning. The government has committed and continues to commit an unprecedented amount of human and material resources to addressing the security challenges in the country.
He pointed out that security agencies would have foiled many attacks of communities had notified them in real-time.