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In accordance with international counter-terrorism recommendations, the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has begun efforts to seize the assets of identified terrorism financiers and their associates.
Remember that earlier this year, the ECOWAS financial intelligence agency, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, indicted Buhari’s administration for failing to pursue the assets of convicted criminals.
In response to the development, the government identified 96 terrorist financiers, as well as 424 associates/supporters of the financiers, whose assets would be confiscated once the legal process was completed.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, revealed in February that intelligence agencies had unmasked 123 companies and 33 Bureaux de Change linked to terrorism.
According to SOJ WORLDWIDE, security and intelligence agencies were scouring the country for the physical assets, such as companies and bank accounts, of individuals and groups charged with terrorism.
Already, 18 individuals, entities, and companies have been added to the Nigeria Sanctions List, which is overseen by the Nigeria Sanctions Committee, a multi-agency panel established by the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act of 2022.
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The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, the Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda terrorist groups, and 13 people convicted of financing Boko Haram are among the groups being pursued by the federal government.
Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, chairs the 16-member sanctions committee.
Other members include the finance, foreign affairs, and interior ministers, as well as the National Security Adviser, Director-General of the Department of State Services, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Inspector-General of Police, and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The committee also includes the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, a representative of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Offences, and the Director of the Nigeria Finance Commission.
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The Committee has the authority, among other things, to formulate and provide general policy guidelines on designations made under sections 49, 53, and 54 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act of 2022, as well as to advise on the effective implementation of UN Security Council resolutions related to terrorism financing and proliferation financing, as well as allied instruments of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
The committee may recommend to the AGF appropriate sanctions, such as a travel ban, the freezing of funds, the seizure of assets, and other economic interests of persons and entities designated on the United Nations Consolidated List or the Nigeria List.
According to SOJ WORLDWIDE, a massive search and freeze campaign for all terrorists’ and terrorism sponsors’ assets was underway.
On Thursday, a senior Justice Ministry official provided an update on the initiative, saying,
“At the last Sanctions Committee meeting last week, we identified several assets belonging to terrorists and their sponsors, but we have not begun seizing the assets; we are working on that.” We will obtain court orders freezing and forfeiting the assets.
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“We’re still looking at companies that have terrorism financing elements; once we’ve identified that, and of course investigations will have to identify those who have assets,” said a spokesperson. We will then file ex parte motions, but this is not yet the case.
“However, we have identified the assets of six groups/entities and are tracking down other properties and businesses owned by these individuals.” In fact, the vast majority of them were tried and convicted. We have frozen all of their accounts but have not located any of their physical assets. That is what we are working on; our investigators are tracking down their physical assets.”
According to the director of the Ministry of Justice, the 13 convicted Boko Haram sponsors have been added to the Nigeria Sanctions List, a master list of all persons and institutions blacklisted for terrorism.
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