November 17, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government, on Thursday, said it would resume the prosecution of some alleged terrorists in the next two weeks.
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, disclosed this on Thursday, 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).
The AGF, who 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, disclosed that the Federal Government had secured over 500 convictions, and N45 billion forfeitures in two years.
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 Minister said the adoption of virtual trials was aimed at preventing delay, and added that the government was not shying away from its responsibility of providing funds for the purpose.
“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.
“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 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, 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 a number of individuals and entities linked to terrorist activity and seized funds linked to them.
“I believe that the FATF standards are merely the minimum benchmark that we must all aspire to in order 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 own 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 said.