President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law, three bills aimed at improving the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing/proliferation frameworks in the country.
The bills signed yesterday 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.
Speaking at a brief signing ceremony at the Council Chamber at the State House, Abuja, the president described the bills as being 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.
According to him, 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enough punitive measures and containment strategies against abuses and compromises while the inadequacy of all the repealed Acts had impacted legal actions against offender.
“We will not rest until we rid the nation of the menace of money laundering, terrorism, and other financial crimes,” he added.
Buhari commended the National Assembly members for their tenacity, courage and commitment in ensuring that Nigeria put in place effective measures to address the menace of money laundering, terrorism, and terrorism financing.
He noted that the 9th National Assembly had proven to be patriotic, responsive, resourceful and industrious in its legislative assignments, recalling that he had on January 14, 2022, sought expeditious passage of the three bills.
The president lauded the Assembly under Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan and House Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and their colleagues for responding to his request, saying they have certainly carved out a worthy legacy for themselves.
Commenting on the importance of the legislations, the president said: “The signing of these bills into law today not only strengthens the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework in the Country, but addresses the deficiencies identified in Nigeria’s 2nd 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 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 repeal of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013, and enactment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 provides for the effective implementation of international instruments on the prevention and combating of terrorism and suppression of the financing of terrorism.
“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.”
Buhari told his audience which included the Senate President and some Senators, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Heads of anti-corruption agencies, including ICPC and EFCC, that the executive arm of government carefully avoided creating another asset recovery and management agency with its cost implications in deference to government’s sensitivity to the rising cost of governance.
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.
The president stressed: “I have therefore taken time to note 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.
“The primary objectives of these measures are to ensure effective, unified and comprehensive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the implementation of the Acts.
“This is profound and calls for coordinated responses to the challenges posed by the menace. I therefore charge all relevant agencies to ensure effective implementation of these new laws.
“The robust frameworks diligently enshrined in the Acts can only serve useful purposes when every bit of them is enforced.
Emphasising that the fight against corruption requires an “All of Government, All of Nation approach,” the president affirmed that every Nigerian had a role to play to rid the country of corrupt practices.
He commended the members of the National Action Task Force comprising several Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, noting that the bills were clear demonstration of government functioning at its best with coordination, collaboration, and execution all towards a common goal.
The president assured Nigerians 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.
Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday said 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.
These claims were made by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, at the launch of the Nigeria Internal Security and Public Safety Alert System (N-Alerts), held yesterday in Abuja.
“The good news is that government is winning. The government has committed and continues to commit (an) unprecedented amount of resources – human and material – to addressing the security challenges in the country, with personnel and equipment spread thin,” said Aregbesola.
He pointed out that security agencies would have foiled many attacks if communities had notified them in real-time.
“One noticeable lacuna is information and timely alert of the security agencies to incidents of crimes, breach of security and natural disasters before they happen or while they are going on,” the minister stated.
“In most cases, they would have been prevented or mitigated if the alert had come in time. As part of the response to this challenge, the Ministry of Interior has, therefore, developed an 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 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.