By Salmat Abdulwaheed and Gideon Ojigi
As part of a number of activities lined up towards the attainment of the overall objectives of the project “Turning up the Pressure: Tackling anti-money laundering through multi-stakeholder approaches in ECOWAS countries,” Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) paid a visit to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) liaison office in Abuja on the 17th of July 2018.
The delegation was led by the programme officer on Democratic Governance, Austin Erameh, who, in a brief introduction, gave a brief overview of what the anti-money laundering project intends to achieve and areas of policy engagement as well as its spread across the continent. He thanked the NDLEA team for receiving CISLAC and encouraged further partnership beyond the day’s interaction. He also used the opportunity to invite NDLEA formally to the multi-stakeholders’ meeting coming up in September and expressed
Afterwards, the assistant programme officer on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) project, Gloria Okwu, presented an outline of the project, which states the specific objectives of the project among which is to increase public awareness for political commitment on AML and anti-corruption mechanisms which effectively prevents, detects, reports and sanctions the laundering of corrupt and criminal proceeds in practice in ECOWAS countries. The action aims to muster joint pressure from civil societies, the media, private sector and key public anti-money laundering agencies around a shared set of recommendations while creating an enabling environment for the implementation / realization of priority recommendations through coordinated advocacy efforts. The project is being implemented in seven ECOWAS countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Cote d’ívoire. The project is a two-year project and is implemented in the Transparency International chapter.
She pointed that the project is set on bringing together multi-stakeholders like the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences (ICPC), and other anti-money laundering agencies along with the media, adding that the upcoming event in September will tighten the collaboration of governments agencies; enlighten and cause a positive state of change to the policies and the view of the countries that are involved in the unsettling situation of money laundering in West Africa.
In his address, the Chief of Staff of the NDLEA, Femi Oloruntoba, thanked the delegation for identifying and choosing the NDLEA as a worthy partner in such a very noble campaign. Likewise, the Chief of staff stated his willingness to do everything within the NDLEA to support awareness creation and implementation of the project. He stated that the money laundering situation in Nigeria has a personality which is difficult to curb because of the lack of willingness on the part of the Nigerian government to change or approve policies that will ensure the smooth investigation and prosecution of violators, and example of which is the Forfeiture Bill.
He commended the efforts of CISLAC and noted that the project holds so much promise for Nigeria in the fight against money laundering and assured CISLAC that the doors of the NDLEA is open for further interaction.
CISLAC’s continued engagement with the government on strengthening anti-money laundering mechanisms in West Africa, is with support from Transparency International and European Union.