Mr Edwin Harris, the Director-General of the ECOWAS Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering In West Africa (GIABA), Senegal, has urged African leaders to step up efforts in the fight againsr Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) in the region.
Harris made the call while delivering a lecture at the 11th anniversary annual lecture of Realnews and investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame on Tuesday in Lagos.
The theme of the lecture is :” The Threats of Illicit Financial Flow to the African Economy”.
He stated that IFFs are a systemic problem requiring a systemic solution and as such, African leaders cannot afford to relax in the fight against a cankerworm that threatens their sustainable development.
The director-general noted that IFFs as money illegally earned, transferred or used in violation of laws in their origin, or during their movement or use, and are therefore considered illicit.
”IFFs from Africa typically originates from three sources, which are : corruption, including money acquired through bribery and abuse of office by public sector and private sector officials.
”Others are criminal activities, ranging from trafficking in people and drugs, arms smuggling, fraud in the financial sector, such as unauthorised or unsecured loans, money laundering, stock market manipulation and outright forgery,” he said.
Harris also mentioned commercial activities, arising from business-related activities, and having several purposes, including hiding wealth, evading or aggressively avoiding tax, and dodging customs duties and domestic levies.
The GIABA director-general said that the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) High Level Panel (HLP) on IFFs had stated that Africa is estimated to have lost one trilliondollars or more over the past 50 years to IFFs.
The commission, he said also revelealed that the continent is estimated to lose more than 50 billion annually in IFFs .
Harris stressed that this was corroborated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which estimated that Africa loses as much as $60 billion each year in IFFs.
He stated that in 2020, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in its report on Economic Development in Africa, estimated that Africa loses about US$88.6 billion, 3.7 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), annually in IFF.
Harris said, at a regional level, the scale of criminal proceeds in the West Africa has been estimated at 3.6.per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) .
“IFF are a global phenomenon and do not respect borders. They undermine global social, political and economic security and have become a serious threat to the attainment of development agenda, particularly in Africa.
“Africa’s efforts to ensure the reduction of IFFs must be pro-active, firm and unwavering while activities that give rise to IFFs must be vigorously fought without compromise.
“The key task is to take bold steps, cooperate and coordinate efforts, and unit to dismantle the system extracting wealth from Africa, ” he said.
According to him, this requires collective actions by all critical stakeholders, including national authorities, the private sector and civil society organisations to press for change in their countries and the continent at large.
Harris commended Realnews and other media houses in Africa for their effort in fighting against IFFs.
In her welcome address, Ms Maureen Chigbo, the Publisher of Realnews said that the anniversary lecture series is one way the medium contributes to nation-building and development.
Chigbo said Realnews does this by providing a forum for policy change-oriented discussions by professionals, scholars, technocrats and decision-makers on the way forward for our great nation and Africa in general.
“The lecture series since 2014 have focused elections, economy, security, challenges of leadership in Africa, Africa’s political transitions oil and gas, unfolding integration of the African Market, and drug abuse among youths in Africa.
“This year, we zeroed in on “Threats of Illicit funds flow to the African Economy”, because of our deep concern about the nefarious effect of illicit funds flow on the economy, resulting in dwindling revenue for Africa governments,” she said.
According to her, the theme of the lecture was borne out of a revelation by Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) on Oct. 22, that Nigeria lost $18 billion yearly to IFFs through the banking sector.
Chigbo stated that Rafsanjani, also Head, Transparency International (TI) Nigeria, had disclosed that Nigeria is one of the 23 countries ranked as non-co-operative in the combined efforts to fight money laundering globally, since its establishment in 2003.
She said to address this burning issue, the medium searched for Harris and other selected panel of discussants with relevant expertise, knowledge and experience to shed more lights on the topic.
The publisher appreciated the speakers and sponsors of the event in various capacities for their unwavering support to the medium.
In a panel discussion, Mr Kayode Adedayo, Director of Proceeds of Crime Department, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said African countries must prioties the prevention of the movement of illicit funds from their territories.
Adedayo noted that this was imperative because once the funds are moved, particularly to the Western countries and discovered, and effort is made for its repatriation, they are returned after several years without interest.
Also, Mr Felix Obiamalu, Associate Director of Legal and Sanctions, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) urged the Federal Government to establish a clear and up-to-date policy and guidelines on how to combat IFF in Nigeria.
Obiamalu stated that while IFF is a menace that has eaten deepen into the Nigerian system, government at all level should lead by showing a political will to destroy it and promote the whistle blower mentality among the citizens.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the highlight of the event was induction of new members into the Realnews Hall of Fame.
The new members are : Harris, Adedayo, Obiamalu, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission and Mr Ahmed Karu, Managing Director, Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria. (NAN)
We Currently have $30bn Investment Commitments – FG
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, says Nigeria currently has about 30 billion dollars investment committment from various investors.
Uzoka-Anite said this at the ongoing Ministerial Media briefing in Abuja on Friday.
According to her, the commitments will be redeemed over the course of five to eight years.
She said investments, commitments, and pledges were also received from our oil and gas free zone, adding that last week, some of them committed an additional 10 billion dollars in investments.
“I hosted the managing director of SHELL who explained to me about the investment plans of shell.
“ I know a lot of us are aware that shell is leaving; he came to explain to me what they mean by that.And I can tell you that they are not leaving.
“Rather, they are expanding and increasing their investments in Nigeria; they are selling their onshore assets and increasing their investment in gas and offshore assets.” she said.
Uzoka-Anite, who envisaged more investments into the country, said it would not have been possible without the commitment of President Bola Tinubu led administration.
She said that with increased investments comes job opportunities and economic growth, which wss part of the priority of the government. (NAN)
Nigerian Breweries Records N106bn Loss in 2023
Nigerian Breweries Plc has recorded a net loss of N106 billion for the year ended 2023, as against N13.93 billion posted in its 2022 financials, indicating 860 per cent loss.
Mr Uaboi Agbebaku, Company Secretary, Nigerian Breweries stated this in the audited financial result of the company for the year ended 2023 sent to the Nigerian Exchange Ltd.
Agbebaku said the gross profit of the company for the year under review also fell by 0.3 percent to N212.5 billion, compared to N213.20 billion posted in the previous year.
He stated that the operating profit of the company declined by 15.
The company secretary said that the firm recorded loss in its operating profit due to higher input cost and one-off reorganisation cost despite strong and aggressive cost savings and other efficiency measures.
According to him, the company however was able to grow its revenue by nine per cent to N599 billion, compared to N551 billion posted in the previous year, which was aided by positive price mix.
Agbebaku stated that the Nigeria business landscape experienced significant shifts in 2023, with substantial impact on businesses and livelihoods nationwide.
He explained that the Naira notes redesign which resulted in cash shortage that severely hampered social and economic activities nationwide set the tone for a turbulent year.
Agbebaku said: “High double-digit inflation rates with food inflation at more than 30 per cent and removal of subsidy on fuel.
“Coupled with the impact of the devaluation of the naira which resulted in a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion further exacerbated the already difficult environment for the populace and businesses.
“In a difficult operating environment, the Board will ensure that the company builds on its more than 77 years’ experience of operating in Nigeria to cope with current realities.
He said the company would continue to be resilient and forward-thinking, leveraging on its broad portfolio, strong supply chain footprint and passionate workforce to drive long-term value creation for its shareholders and other stakeholders.(NAN)
NDLEA Tincan Command Intercepted 876.453kg Illicit Drugs, others in 2023-Commander
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Tincan Special Area Command, says 876.453 kilograms of various illicit drugs and controlled substances were intercepted in 2023.
Commander Mohammed Abubakar of the command said this in a statement in Lagos on Thursday.
He listed the drugs as cocaine worth 24kg; Canabis – 852.
According to Abubakar, a total of 15 individuals were arrested and prosecuted during the period, out of which 10 were convicted.
He added that the feat was achieved through relentless efforts and meticulous investigation, which led to the dismantling of several drug trafficking networks and the subsequent prosecution of individuals involved.
“The Tincan special area command has been at the forefront of strategic operations in the area, targeting illicit drug smuggling activities and apprehending those responsible.
“In recent months, the efforts have culminated in multiple successful seizures and arrests, emphasising the agency’s commitment to eradicating drug-related crimes within our society.
“In one operation carried out at the Tincan port, a notable seizure of illicit drugs (Cannabis Indica also called Colorado) totalling 161.5kg was made, along with sum of 22,900 dollars offered as bribe to officers.
“The intercepted drugs, were concealed within cargo shipments of used vehicles from Montreal Canada, indicating the ingenuity of the involved drug traffickers,” he said.
Abubakar said that several investigations were conducted in collaboration with national and international law enforcement agencies, leading to the identification and apprehension of some of the key players in these drug networks.
The NDLEA boss noted that the combined efforts proved fruitful, resulting in the arrest of some of the persons directly involved in the importation, distribution, and sales of illicit drugs.
He said that throughout 2023, the command embarked on various sensitisation and enlightenment activities within and around the Tincan island port.
He listed them to include advocacy visit to all stakeholders in and around the port, public enlightenment and lectures, rallies and engagement of traditional rulers and non-governmental organisations around the port environment.
“All the activities were carried out under aegis of ‘War Against Drug Abuse’ (WADA) and was designed to reduce demand and abuse of illicit drugs and psychotropic substances in Nigeria.
The NDLEA Tincan special area commander appreciated stakeholders in the maritime industry, and other relevant government agencies for their unwavering support and collaborative effort in these operations.
He added that their dedication and joint action had played a crucial role in the successes achieved thus far.
He also urged all licensed Customs clearing agents to stop the practice of authorising third party individuals to clear cargo under their company stamp.
He pointed out that the practice, automatically made the company liable to any cargo cleared, using its name and stamp.
“This may become a real problem when illicit drugs are discovered and the company cannot provide any tangible information or whereabout of the owners of the cargo.
“Clearing agents have the responsibilities to not only adhere to laws but to cooperate with law enforcement agents undertaking an investigation.
“The NDLEA Tincan special area command sends a strong message to all those involved in drug trafficking and other illicit activities, we intend to use every available resource to bring them to justice and put an end to their illegal operations,” he said.
He said the command would continue to enhance their intelligence capabilities, invest in modern equipment, and provide training for its officers to combat drug trafficking effectively.
“The agency urges the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities related to drug trafficking to the NDLEA or relevant law enforcement agencies. Together, we can create a safer and drug-free environment for all Nigerians,” he said. (NAN)
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