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TI-Nigeria Boss Alleges Nigerian Banks Offer Opportunities for Terrorism Tinancing

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Awual Rafsanjani, executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and head,  Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria), has accused banks of offering opportunities for terrorism financing in the country.

TI-Nigeria Boss Alleges Nigerian Banks Offer Opportunities for Terrorism Tinancing

Rafsanjani, stated this at the multi-stakeholder meeting on terrorism financing and violent extremism in the North-East, organised by CISLAC and TI-Nigeria, financed by GIABA-ECOWAS.

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 commingle funds considered to be linked to Terrorism Financing.”

In his goodwill message, Ola Olukoyede, chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)  said that the commission is settling for the use of technology to combat illicit flow of monies into the hands of terrorists.

Olukoyede expressed worry over the dimension terrorism financing has taken, disclosing that the EFCC has discovered platforms other than Binance, which are being used for terrorism financing, saying over a thousand of 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 on how this crisis continues to defy solutions and fester? How is it that the terrorist groups in the region are able to 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 action 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 organisation 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 funds trail of critical actors in the region and cutting 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 into investigating some of these platforms was mind bugging, and we thought Binance was a major one, yes a major one and we are prosecuting them but much more, other platforms we have discovered, of course you are aware that EFCC has to freeze over a thousand account, 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 adopt the use of technology, and that is what we are going to do to see how we can adopt technology to be able to track every Naira,” he said.

Also, in a goodwill speech, Dr Musa Aliyu, SAN, chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, (ICPC), 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.”

 

 


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Court Dismisses Base Stations Lawsuit Against ATC, MTN

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ATC Nigeria, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, and MTN Nigeria scored a major victory in court last week over constructing or operating base transceiver stations “within close proximity” to stations owned by IHS Towers Nigeria.

The lawsuit against the two had been filed by non-profit organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, in November 2023.

Additionally, HEDA also filed a contempt of court case against ATC Nigeria’s CEO, Errol Ambler-Smith, seeking his arrest, which HEDA later withdrew.

ATC Nigeria announced that on Friday, June 21, 2024, the court struck out HEDA’s suit against ATC Nigeria and MTN Nigeria on the grounds that it was speculative and failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

American Tower said it has “always been and remains committed to upholding” the highest standards of legal compliance and operational integrity in all its activities.

“We are pleased that the court recognised the speculative nature of HEDA’s lawsuit, and we are hopeful that this outcome will send a message to other similar potential speculative lawsuits. We appreciate the support and understanding of all our stakeholders as we continue to invest in, and provide critical infrastructure for, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry,” ATC Nigeria said in a statement.


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Airtel Boosts Sickle Cell Awareness with CrimsonBow Initiative Collaboration

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In commemoration of this year’s World Sickle Cell Day, Airtel Nigeria partnered with the CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative to host a well-attended sickle cell awareness and clinic over the weekend, at Dansol Primary School, Ikeja, Lagos.

The event which aimed at improving sickle cell education and supporting individuals living with sickle cell disease, featured free counselling for sickle cell patients, free medical testing, drug dispensing, and sensitization sessions to educate the public about the sickle cell disease.

Through the partnership, much-needed support and resources were provided to affected individuals while promoting early detection and proper management of the condition.

Commenting on the involvement of Airtel in the program, Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Femi Oshinlaja, emphasized Airtel’s dedication to good health as part of the telecommunication company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.

“We are proud to partner with CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative in this important endeavour, as it reflects our commitment to corporate social responsibility and improving community health outcomes. The goal of this partnership is to provide crucial support to individuals living with sickle cell disease and to help raise awareness about the condition.

“Through this partnership, we strongly hope to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, Timi Edwin, expressed gratitude to Airtel. In her remarks, “This partnership with Airtel Nigeria allows us to extend our reach and provide essential services to more individuals living with sickle cell disease. We appreciate Airtel Nigeria for their support in making this event possible.”

Airtel Nigeria has continued to reinforce its position as an organization committed to the well-being of the society through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Asides initiative partnerships like this to combat the challenges faced by individuals living with sickle cell disease, they continue to make strides under several CSR initiatives, contributing to the overall effort to enhance the general wellness of Nigerians.

 


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Tinubu appoints Tunji Bello as CEO of FCCPC

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President Bola Tinubu has appointed Olatunji Bello as the new Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, noted that the appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

He said that the President expects that the new Chief Executive Officer of this important agency will ensure the holistic realization of the Commission’s mandate of protecting and promoting the interest and welfare of Nigerian consumers and ensuring the adoption of measures to guarantee the safety and quality of goods and services.

Bello, who is a lawyer, administrator, and renowned journalist, is the former secretary to the Lagos State Government and holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.

“He studied Law at the same university and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002,” the statement read.

“Bello began his career in journalism at the Concord Newspapers in 1985 and held the positions of Group Political Editor; Sunday Concord Editor, and Editor, National Concord.

“He is a winner of the US Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship and was appointed the Chairman, Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers in 2001.

“He also served as Commissioner for Environment under various administrations in Lagos State.


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