Prosecution of suspected terrorists resumes in two weeks -AGF

The Federal Government will in the next two weeks, resume the prosecution of some alleged terrorists.

The government noted that it was very much alive to the issue and was finalising efforts to ensure a smooth and successful trial.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice,  Lateef Fagbemi SAN, disclosed this on Thursday at the opening of the 40th Technical Commission and Plenary Meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa in Abuja.

The AGF said the FG was considering adopting a virtual trial to prevent delay.

He said, “Efforts are on to resume the trial of those categories of people. And I think, in the next two weeks, it will be a different story. We are conscious of that issue.

“Facilities are being put in place. Apart from the regular physical mode of trial, we are working on ways to ensure that virtual trials can also be conducted.

The adoption of virtual trials is aimed at preventing delay. The government is not shying away from its responsibility of providing funds for this purpose.”

The AGF also stressed the importance of regional and international cooperation to effectively combat money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

He said, “Our ability to tackle the most complex criminal activity, money laundering and violent terrorist attacks is predicated on the capabilities of our supervisory, law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities, and the outcomes that we are achieving point to the need for greater investment in human and technical resources and improved training and capacity development.”

The AGF noted that the FG had secured about 500 convictions which resulted in the recovery of over N45bn in the last two years.

He said, “In 2022, we increased the budgets for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency by almost 95 per cent. We now have over 1,500 officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting money laundering across these three agencies alone.

“These sustained investment has seen increased numbers of investigations, prosecutions and convictions consistently since 2021 with 5,118 investigations, 1,509 prosecutions and almost 500 convictions secured resulting in over N45 billion of illicit proceeds seized.

“We have also made progress in tackling the financing of terrorism and in particular, I am pleased that we have identified and designated several individuals and entities linked to terrorist activity and seized funds linked to them.”

Fagbemi observed that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit has become a global model and has achieved the outcomes envisaged by the passage of its enabling legislation in 2018 which established it as an independent, autonomous unit.

He stated that as GIABA moves towards the conclusion of the second round of mutual evaluations and begins preparations for the third round, members take time to reflect on how they have contributed to strengthening their national AML/CFT/CPF frameworks.

“I believe that the FATF standards are merely the minimum benchmark that we must all aspire to address the serious criminal offences that are prevalent in our countries and across our region. Our legal frameworks, policies and institutional capacities must aspire to put in place the foundations necessary to achieve the vision of the Africa 2063 Agenda, of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

“As we survey the results of this round of mutual evaluations, it is indeed clear that more needs to be done across our sub-region, to enhance effectiveness based on FATF standards,” he added.

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Solomon Odeniyi