Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, disclosed on November 16, 2023, that the Federal Government would resume the prosecution of some alleged terrorists, including Boko Haram members, in the next two weeks. Fagbemi made the disclosure in Abuja at the opening of the 40th Technical Commission and Plenary Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). He said that the federal government had secured over 500 convictions and N45 billion forfeitures in two years.
These revelations came as National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Thursday, said that violent extremism in some parts of the country had been on the decline since President Bola Tinubu assumed office in May. Ribadu made the assertion at the ongoing 19th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference in Uyo, while speaking on the topic, “Oil Theft, Illegal Bunkering, Pipeline Vandalism: Impact on Nigerian Economy.” He called for patience on the part of the citizenry, saying Tinubu is working hard to address the country’s critical problems.
FG working on successful trial of suspected terrorists.
Fagbemi, in the meantime, stressed that the Federal Government was alive to the issue of bringing suspected terrorists to justice and was finalising efforts to ensure their smooth and successful trial. He said that efforts are on to resume the trial of those categories of people. “I think, in the next two weeks, it will be a different story, and we are conscious of that issue,” he said. He added that facilities are being put in place. Also, apart from the regular physical mode of trials, we are working on ways to ensure that virtual trials can also be conducted.
The minister said that the adoption of virtual trial was aimed at preventing delay, and added that the government was not shying away from its responsibility of providing funds for the purpose. The AGF emphasised the importance of regional and international cooperation in order to effectively combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. According to him, Nigeria’s ability to tackle the most complex criminal activity, money laundering and violent terrorist attacks, is predicated on the capabilities of its supervisory, law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities, and the outcomes being achieved point to the need for greater investment in human and technical resources and improved training and capacity development.
Increase in budget of agencies results in N45bn seized.
He also said that in 2022, the country increased the budgets for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) by almost 95 percent. Now, there are over 1,500 officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering across these three agencies alone. These sustained investments have seen increased numbers of investigations, prosecutions and convictions consistently since 2021. With 5,118 investigations, 1,509 prosecutions and almost 500 convictions secured, the result is over N45 billion of illicit proceeds seized.
Furthermore, progress has also been made in tackling the financing of terrorism. In particular, Fagbemi was pleased that a number of individuals and entities linked to terrorist activity and seized funds have been identified and designated. He observed that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) had become a global model and had achieved the outcomes envisaged by the passage of its enabling legislation in 2018, which established it as an independent, autonomous unit. The minister urged that as GIABA moved towards the conclusion of the second round of mutual evaluations and began preparations for the third round, members should take time to reflect on how they had contributed to strengthening their national AML/CFT/CPF frameworks.
Violent extremism had been on a decline since Tinubu was sworn in.
Finally, while Ribadu revealed that violent extremism in parts of the country had been on the decline since President Bola Tinubu assumed office, he pointed out that the country was going through a tough time. But he assured Nigerians that in no distant time, most of the challenges, especially in the area of security, would be addressed. Ribadu said that the country used to record over 1,200 deaths on a daily basis due to criminal activities, but since Tinubu assumed office, there had been a significant drop to about 100 cases.