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EFCC Chairman urges countries to avoid aiding corruption



Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),  Mr. Ola Olukoyede has urged countries to refrain from aiding corruption.

Speaking on Tuesday, December 12,  2023 at the ongoing 10th session of the Conference of State Parties (COSP) to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC, holding at the Georgia World Congress Centre,  Atlanta, United States of America, Olukoyede called for urgent and unconditional return of Nigerian stolen assets stashed in foreign countries.

According to him, the return of stolen assets warehoused in foreign countries, has become imperative for the growth of the economy and expansion of frontiers of development within and outside Nigeria.  He warned that economic and financial crimes have become transnational crimes and no nation serving as a custodian of stolen assets should hold on to them.

“We need the cooperation of all the countries that are custodians or in charge of warehousing all these stolen assets from Africa. It has become extremely important for us to see you as our collaborators, as countries that support us in the fight against corruption.

“Now, when you look at corruption, it has become a transnational crime.  If you are holding on to those assets, you are creating very difficult legal hurdles in recovering those assets. You are indirectly encouraging the perpetrators of the crimes we are talking about.  And when you encourage it in Africa, it has a tendency of affecting you too, because the kind of financial crimes we are talking about have become global in nature. So, it has become important for you to cooperate with us,” he said.

The EFCC’s boss, in a presentation made before a global audience on asset recovery efforts and successes of Nigeria so far, pointed out that Nigeria had “probably done much more than any other country, perhaps the whole world, in the area of asset recovery. We have been able to achieve something because of the legal and regulatory framework that the government of Nigeria has been able to put in place.”

He listed measures already taken in this regard to include, the enactment of the Proceeds of Crimes ( Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022,  use of  extant laws on civil forfeiture of assets,  banking reforms mandating bank customers to have a Bank Verification Number, BVN,  for all transactions and the professional activities of the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies to trace, investigate and prosecute ill-gotten assets within and beyond Nigeria, as potent measures yielding optimal results in asset recovery.

“There is an aspect of our law that allows for civil forfeiture. Civil forfeiture is a situation where you will not necessarily get a criminal conviction of an offender but you can easily attach assets and forfeit the assets and that has greatly assisted us in asset recovery.

“There is another aspect that we have tried to put in place, a year ago. It is the enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act which has created legal and regulatory regimes for asset recovery by various agencies in Nigeria.  Also, our ability to cooperate and collaborate with the rest of the world drives home the fact that both the people that have stolen money and the countries that have received the money are also culpable,” he said.

He reiterated the need for the global community to support Nigeria’s efforts towards asset recovery, pointing out that, “we will only be able to see you as a friend if you  are willing to support us in recovering such assets that  have been traced to your jurisdiction.”

He applauded the courage and commitment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in driving the asset recovery initiatives of the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies and assuring the world that stronger financial discipline is now in place in Nigeria.

“President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has promised the whole world that we are ready to run our  financial system in Nigeria in such a way that is transparent and responsible,” he said.

Olukoyede harped on his preventive framework as a new modality capable of yielding impactful results in the fight against corruption.

“I can also pledge that on our part, we are ready to adopt very strict preventive measures which we have started  in Nigeria now.

“As a matter of  fact, it was one of my policy objectives when I assumed office over a month ago, to use the  instrumentality  of prevention as one of the major forces  to fight  financial crimes and corruption in Nigeria.

“It costs less for you to prevent than for you to enforce . We are holding on to that. Again, I want to pledge that going forward, we will ensure that there is accountability and transparency in application of  whatever asset is recovered,” he said.

Earlier in an address, the Nigerian Country Director,  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Oliver Stolpe, applauded Nigeria on its asset recovery efforts,  describing her  as “world’s champion in asset recovery.”

“Nigeria in many ways has been leading the asset recovery efforts on the African continent and I like to refer to Nigeria as the world’s champion in asset recovery because, certainly  in African comparison, you have more cases and recovered large amounts,” he said. The 10th session of COSP ends on Friday,  December 15, 2023.

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Nigeria deploys troops for peace keeping in Gambia



The Armed Forces of Nigeria on Friday, announced the deployment of 197 personnel for the peace keeping mission in the Gambia.
The Chief of Operations Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen. Boniface Sinjen made the announcement in Jaji, Kaduna State, at the graduation of troops of Nigerian Company 9 Economic Community of West African States Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG).
The 197 troops began Pre-Deployment Training (PDT) on May 4, at Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC) Jaji Kaduna State.
According to him, the PDT is in line with the commitment of the Chief of Army Staff , Lt -Gen Taoreed Lagbaja and the Armed Forces of Nigeria in deploying quality peacekeepers in support of international peace and security.
He said that the training had equipped them with the necessary tactical skills and knowledge required for peace support operations.
“It  has prepared you for the protection of civilians and the accomplishment of assigned tasks under the ECOMIG mandate.
“You have learned the importance of teamwork, leadership and cultural sensitivity as well as other factors that would ensure your success in the mission area.
“You have been trained in the latest techniques and procedures for maintaining peace and stability in a complex environment and instilled with the values of discipline, respect for human rights and compassion for the people you are going out there to protect.
“Your mission comes at a critical time, as The Gambia faces a period of
uncertainty and instability, “he said.
According to him, the country’s political crisis has affected the lives of many innocent civilians and their presence will sustain the existing peace and stability to the region.
“Your role is crucial in maintaining peace, protecting lives and promoting sustainable development.”
Sinjen  charged  the troops to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, discipline and respect for human rights.
He advised them to adhere strictly to the ECOWAS’ mandate, which guides your mission and ensure that your actions align with the principles of peace, stability and human rights.
”Remember that your conduct will not only reflect on yourselves but also on your country, the ECOWAS region and the international community.
”Additionally, your training has exposed you to the culture and religious diversity of The Gambia.
 “You are, therefore, expected to approach all interactions with sensibility and respect. Be mindful of the local customs, traditions and socio-political dynamics of the mission area.
”You must remain vigilant in the face of potential security threats and   avoid any actions that may be perceived as insensitive,” he said.
He said that as peacekeepers in a sovereign nation, they must adhere strictly to the UN principles and guidelines for peacekeeping operations.
 “Respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Gambia and avoid any actions that may be perceived as interference in the country’s internal affairs.”
He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria had zero-tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuse in line with United Nations’ policies.
”Therefore, any form of sexual exploitation and abuse will be met with severe consequences.
“As ambassadors of the armed Forces of Nigeria and our great nation, you must uphold the esteemed values and enviable image of this country, “Sinjen said.
Earlier, the Commandant of MLAILPKC, Maj-Gen. Ademola Adedoja, said the six weeks training had been intense, comprehensive, and was conducted in line with the Standard UN Core Pre-Deployment Training Modules.
Adedoja said the PDT was to equip the earmarked unit with the requisite skills and knowledge to function effectively and efficiently in their deployment to the Gambia.

He said as  part of their training, the troops were taken through crosscutting issues like Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Conflict Related Sexual Violence, Conduct and Discipline as well as Protection of Civilians amongst others.

“This graduation is a testament to the capacity and capability of the MLAILPKC as a United Nations accredited Centre to conduct quality training of prospective peacekeepers for deployment to multidimensional Peace Support Operations in fulfillment of her mandate.

“The Centre has within the last six weeks been able to train, retrain and refresh the troops on requisite knowledge and expertise to succeed in a Peace Support Operation environment.

” It is my fervent belief that these men are better informed and equipped to perform their roles in the Gambia, “Adedoja said.

He said the graduation ceremony once more showed the commitment of Nigeria and the Nigerian Armed Forces to global peace and security.

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Tinubu calls for stronger collaboration with FBI to fight cybercrime, terrorism



President Bola Tinubu has called for stronger collaboration between Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the fight against cybercrime, terrorism, and other related crimes. 

The President made the call during a meeting with FBI Director, Christopher Asher Wray, at the State House on Friday in Abuja.

Tinubu described the presence of the FBI Director alongside his team in Nigeria as a recognition of the enduring partnership between Nigeria and the U.S. in the fight against financial crimes and terrorism. 

Security chiefs who attended the meeting included the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.

Also in attendance were the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) and Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede; and the National Coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Maj.-Gen. Adamu Laka, were also present.

Tinubu said it was an honour for him to receive Wray, the leader of an organisation that had demonstrated consistent procedural sophistication and a reputation for excellence over several years.

“Your visit conveys the importance of Nigeria and Nigerian partnership in the work of America’s law enforcement institutions and vice-versa.

“For us, it is a recognition of what stage we are at, who we are, and the level of interest both countries share in eliminating crimes locally and globally.

“We cannot achieve this important feat of eliminating crimes without collaboration.

“Incidentally, as the Chairman of ECOWAS, Nigeria is also collaborating with other West African countries to fight economic and other related crimes,” the President said.

He told the FBI Director that his administration had prioritised education as a tool against poverty, which was generally believed to be a driver of criminal activities.

“We are working hard to eliminate terrorism, cybercrimes, sextortion, and I am glad that we have a good number of agencies that are involved in reducing these crimes to the barest minimum, and they are also well represented at this meeting,” said Tinubu.

Noting that no single country could combat financial crimes in isolation, he called on the U.S. to support developing countries with the requisite technology and knowledge transfer required to combat complex international crimes.

In his remarks, Wray said he was in the country to enhance the “outstanding partnership” that existed between the government of Nigeria and the government of the U.S. 

He lauded Tinubu for supporting the growing partnerships between various agencies of government and the FBI in order to protect the citizens of both countries. 

“We appreciate the President’s vision in countering terrorism in the region, which is a dangerous threat, not only to the countries in the region but also to the United States. 

“We appreciate your vision in re-engineering the role of the Office of the NSA to effectively coordinate efforts on counter-terrorism, and this has already started to bear fruits in terms of the success you are recording against ISIS in West Africa and other terrorist groups. 

“We appreciate your support and collaboration on cyber-enabled crimes and sextortion, which has unfortunately resulted in a few tragic deaths in the United States. 

“I want to assure you of our support whether it is on counter-terrorism, cyber-enabled crimes, kidnapping, joint investigations, and intelligence sharing. Our relationship with Nigeria is a very important one,” the FBI Director said. 

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Saudi Weather: NACHON urges pilgrims to avoid direct sunlight



The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has advised Nigerian pilgrims to use umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun.

The Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Malam Jalal Arabi, gave the advice in an interview with the newsmen, on Friday in Mina, a valley located eight kilometres South-East of the city of Mecca.

This year’s hajj is taking place in sweltering temperatures that test the endurance of worshipers during the mostly outdoor rituals.

He implored the pilgrims to always seek shade whenever possible to avoid direct sunlight.

Arabi said,” It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even if they do not feel thirsty.

” Pilgrims are also advised to pay close attention to all health advisories and instructions provided by the medical team.

” To limit sun exposure, pilgrims should avoid going outside during peak heat. They should also stay cool by refraining from walking on or touching hot surfaces like rooftops.”

Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health has issued a heat advisory for the pilgrims in the wake of scorching surface temperatures, which pose a significant health risk.

The ministry highlighted the intense heat in Makkah as a major challenge for hajj, adding that prolonged sun exposure could be dangerous.

On Saturday morning, pilgrims will proceed from Mina to the plain of Arafat for the major ritual of standing.

Spanning approximately 33 square kilometers, Arafat hosts over two million pilgrims each year.

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