By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on security agencies in Africa, especially the intelligence community, to tighten the loop against illicit financial flows, attributing rising security challenges and thwarted growth in the continent to sponsorship by those who profit from illegal financial activities.
The President said this on Thursday in a keynote address at the opening session of the 16th Conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), in Abuja.
Buhari said that development and stability on the African continent had been undermined by illicit outflows estimated to be about 60 billion US dollars annually.
He said: “Frankly, we may never know the true extent of the damage. Estimates, however, suggest that African countries lose over 60 billion US dollars annually due to illicit financial outflows, a staggering amount for a continent in dire need of development finance.
“Corroborating this figure, a United Nations Report on ‘Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resource Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009,’ observed that during the period 1980 to 2009 between $1.2 trillion and $1.4 trillion was taken out of Africa. This figure is half of the current Gross Domestic Products of all the countries of Africa.”
President Buhari noted that the theme for the conference, “Illicit Financial Outflows from Africa and its impact on National Security and Development,’’ was most timely, urging stakeholders from the intelligence community of the 52 African countries to create a template of risk factors and actionable strategies and give priority to examining the links between crime and instability on our continent.
The President also challenged the conference to put measures in place that will ensure terrorists and criminals were denied access to financial systems.
“Criminals and their collaborators cheat the system through various practices, including trade mis-pricing, trade mis-invoicing, tax abuse and evasion, as well as money laundering. Several unfair commercial agreements and illegal resource extraction by multinational companies, in cahoots with their local collaborators, also create routes for illicit financial outflows.
“As partners in the fight against crime and insecurity, you know that terrorist networks, organized criminal syndicates of drugs, arms and human traffickers and sundry hostile non-state actors are actively undermining the security and stability of our countries,’’ he added.
Buhari said that firm and unwavering action will be required to bring threats under control, noting that “any evasion of rules and regulations in ways that aid corruption in its various manifestations, including illicit financial outflows, must be vigorously fought and defeated.’’
He said, “My role as African Union’s Anti-Corruption Champion brought me closer to appreciating more the devastating impact of corruption and illicit financial outflows on our continent.
“I am, therefore, pleased that this conference will boost the sense of urgency that we collectively have about this devastation and raise our response capacity at operational levels. In Nigeria, we have risen to the challenge. The fight against corruption remains at the core of our efforts to accelerate national development. We have recorded successes even though the perpetrators are not giving up and are trying to fight back.’’
President Buhari commended CISSA, which was established in Nigeria in 2004, for its consistency in networking for 15 years, admonishing that the future goals of curbing illicit flows will not be easy, and would require robust efforts and resolute commitment by individual services in order to lay the solid base for the collaborative efforts to address the daunting challenges.
In his remark, Chairman of African Union Commission, Musa Faki Mahamat, said terrorism, radicalisation, sponsored by illicit flows, continuously affect growth on the continent, while ethnicity and religious diversities had been exploited for political gains.
The Chairman, represented by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Amb. Smail Chergui, said that the internet had been used as valid platform for recruitment of people into criminal activities, noting that terrorists also use sophisticated technology like drones.
Commending President Buhari’s integrity and dedication to fighting corruption, the African Union Chairman said that some political transitions on the continent, with 14 elections holding next year, pose a challenge to development.
The Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, said that conservative estimates suggest that, cumulatively, Africa lost well over one trillion US dollars in over five decades, adding that Africa loses more through illicit financial outflows than it gets in aid and Foreign Direct Investment.
Quoting World Bank reports, Amb. Abubakar noted that poverty in sub-Saharan Africa had been on the rise.
He further noted that illicit financial flows weaken the capacity of African states to meet governance expectations, stifle economic growth and infrastructural development and limit investment in education, health care and agriculture.
Fuel Subsidy Reportedly Back As FG Pays N169.4 Billion in August
A payment of N169.4 billion has been reportedly paid by the Federal Government as subsidy in August.
It is alleged the payment was to keep the pump price at N620 per litre.
According to a report by DailyTrust, a document by the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), reviewed on Wednesday, September 20, showed that in August 2023, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) paid $275m as dividends to Nigeria via NNPC Limited.
The revelation by FAAC effectively indicates that the subsidy is back and NNPC is now taking NLNG dividends to pay the subsidy, the report added.
Also, the current price stagnation despite the worsening exchange rate and international crude price crossing $95 a barrel suggests a return of subsidy despite the numerous assurances by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that the subsidy is gone.
The revelation by FAAC indicates that the subsidy is back and NNPC is now taking NLNG dividends to pay the subsidy.
Reports by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), showed that petrol subsidy cost N1.57 trillion in 2021 alone and another N1.27 trillion from January to May 2022.
Another N3 trillion was used to cover petrol subsidy costs from June 2022 to June 2023.
The report comes barely four months after President Bola Tinubu on May 29, declared that there would no longer be a petroleum subsidy as the current 2023 budget did not contain it.
He revealed that the current 2023 budget has provision for the fuel subsidy till June.
Tinubu stated that funds for subsidies would be diverted to other things like public infrastructure, education, health care, and jobs but the removal of subsidy led to a massive increase in the cost of fuel which had a ripple effect on the economy skyrocketing prices of everything.
CBN Digitises Licensing Application, Approval for Microfinance Banks
The CBN on Wednesday in Abuja unveiled a new online platform for the submission licence applications by microfinance banks.
Its Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isa AbdulMumin, said the platform, known as the CBN Licensing, Approval and Other Requests Portal (CBN LARP), would be the place to process applications.
AbdulMumin said the portal replaced the current manual process where applicants for microfinance banks’ licences submitted applications to the CBN physically.
He said the new portal would improve accessibility, reduce paperwork, and expedite licence approvals.
“In due course, the CBN will extend the platform to other categories of licences.
“The online application system offers numerous benefits, including a simplified process, time saving, enhanced communication, and robust security measures.
“By digitising the application process, the CBN aims to improve accessibility, reduce paperwork, and expedite
licence approvals, benefiting both applicants and the economy.
“Consequently, with effect from Sept. 25, microfinance bank licence applicants are required to submit both hardcopy and online applications (via the CBN LARP) as part of a parallel run,’’ he said.
He added that the parallel run would end on Dec. 31, after which the manual submission of hardcopy bank licence applications would no longer be required and accepted.
“From Sept. 25, prospective microfinance bank applicants are urged to log on to www.larp.cbn.gov.ng to submit their applications,’’ AbdulMumin stressed. (NAN)
Reps Quiz NPA Over Sale of 16 Vessels at N156m. Others
An ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives is quizzing the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) over the sale of 16 vessels for N156.24 million in 2019.
Among the vessels were ML Pategi sold at N3.2 million; ML Misau sold at N1.06 million; PB Kabba sold at N5.
Documents before the committee also showed that NPA sold exotic vehicles like Ranger Pick-Up, Toyota Coaster Buses, Toyota Corolla cars, Toyota Hiace buses, Toyota Camry Salon Cars, among others at cheap prices
The documents equally indicated that NPA sold 45 million other items at the Apapa Port, Lagos in 2022 at N1 each, thereby collecting N45 million after the sales.
The property was sold through an invoice dated Aug. 9, 2022.
The NPA also sold 10,800,700 other items at its Apapa Dockyard in 2021 also at the rate of N1 each, netting N10.800 million in the process.
The documents further showed that NPA sold 20 million scrap metals at the Kirikiri Terminal II, Apapa, at N1 each, thereby netting N20 million also.
Prof Julius Ihonvbere, chairman of the committee adjourned sitting on Wednesday to Sept. 25 to enable NPA officials to prepare answers to questions posed at them.
The officials were directed to bring along with them list of properties slated for auctioning and evaluation reports on the adjourned date.
Ihonvbere said the NPA officials should also present the committee with the names of registered property valuers involved in the transactions.
The officials were also directed to present the valuers’ reports and government approval for the sale of the property from the office of Bureau of Public Procurement.
The officials were also directed to present Certificates of No Objection to the sales by appropriate government agencies and evidence of remittances of accrued revenue into Federal Government’s coffers.
Ihonvbere also told the NPA officials to present bidding procedures, newspaper publications, selection and every other document that could assist the committee in its investigation.
The committee’s job is to unravel the extent of illegal auctioning of public property, non-remittance of revenue realised into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Gove Rep. mourns Rivers lawmaker
Read Our ePaper
No Casualty as Three-storey Building Collapses Story Building — NEMA
ShareThe National Emergency Management Agency on Saturday confirmed that there was no casualty in the three-Storey building that collapsed at...
Minister of Information Charges Advertising Agencies on Value Orientation
ShareMinister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has urged the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) to support...
Kogi APC Alleges Vandalism on Campaign Office in Dekina
ShareFrom Joseph Amedu, Lokoja The Kogi State All Progressives Congress (APC), has said that its campaign office in Dekina Local...
Group Moves to End Cultism in Benue South
ShareFrom David Torough, Makurdi A Socio-cultural organization, Ede-ma Development Association (EDE-MA), has backed Edumoga Youth Movement (EYM) and Edumoga Youth...
NYSC Tasks Employers on Welfare, Security of Corps Members
Share From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja Ag. Director, North Central Area Office, National Youths Service Corps (NYSC),Mrs Biodun Olobukola has challenged...
UNGA 78: Tinubu Harps on Sustainable Environment for Investment in Africa
Share President Bola Tinubu has emphasised the importance of creating sustainable environment for investment opportunities in Agriculture to strive in...
30 Cleft Lip, Palate Patients Get Free Medical Surgery in Kogi
ShareFrom Joseph Amedu, Lokoja No fewer than 30 Cleft lip and Palate Patients in Kogi state have benefited from the...
Fintiri Inaugurates Human Capital Development.Council
ShareFrom Yagana Ali, Yola. Adamawa state Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has inaugurated the State Human Capital Development council. At the...
Relief for Kaduna Ginger Farmers as FG Intervenes
ShareFrom Nicholas Dekera, Kaduna Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, has assured the Ginger farmers, whose farmlands...
FG Appeals for Calm over Tuition as Varsities Resume
ShareMinister of State for education, Hon. Dr. Tanko Yusuf Sununu has appealed to students, parents and lecturers in our Institutions...