The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has admitted it has not been able to make any headway in finding the source of financing for Boko Haram's terror activities.
The spokesman of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, who spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY said he was totally ignorant of any investigation that the commission was conducting to find the source of funding of the dreaded Boko Haram.
An Abuja-based financial expert has, however, called into question the dependency of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the EFCC on the financial surveillance of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Godwin Owoh said he was not expecting funds used by Boko Haram to be easily traceable because of the informal sector.
This is even as the Barack Obama-led administration in the United States has pledged to help the federal government of Nigeria in its resolution to combat money laundering.
The federal government had, on several occasions, linked the funding of Boko Haram to politicians and is prosecuting a serving senator. There have been reports of the group robbing banks in order to raise funds.
On whether there was an investigation being conducted, EFCC spokesman Uwujaren said, “I do not have any information regarding that. I have nothing.” And when asked whether that meant there was no ongoing investigation, he repeated that there was no information available to him.
The United States’ government, which sees the campaign against money laundering as a major component in the fight against terrorism around the world, has also given a lot of support to the EFCC and is assisting the federal government in other security-related issues.
Spokesperson of the United States Department of States, Mrs. Ellen Masi, during an online interview with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY said that fighting corruption was among the top shared priorities of the Obama-led administration, as it continued its close cooperation through the second year of the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-national Commission.
She said that the government of her country looks forward to working with the Nigerian government to improve transparency and accountability, and remove impediments to the delivery of government services.????
Also speaking, a top official of the States Department, Mr. Dick Custin, said that the United States government is seriously working on some measures, which it would use to help Nigeria combat money laundering and corruption.
Custin added that every effort of the Obama-led administration to help the West African nation on this vital issue would be made known soon.
Dr. Owoh, a financial expert and the executive chairman of the Society for Analytical Economics, Nigeria, has however, said that policies of the CBN and its monitoring structures are not helping matters, though the country has one of the best anti-money laundering law in the world which is not being enforced.
He said, “Policies of the CBN are not working because if they were, why haven’t they prosecuted anyone or gotten the EFCC to prosecute anyone? But the skills to monitor transaction in the financial process is a purely accounting one and that skill does exist in the CBN.”
Owoh said, “CBN has become a political institution and EFCC should not rely on the CBN because its staff could also be a source of money laundering and they could be a subject of EFCC investigation. So, the CBN can’t be part of that flow of monitoring.
“It will be difficult to track the source of Boko Haram funds because it is a faceless organization that has its own mode of financing which will be also faceless. The security agencies would have to be magicians to track the funds.”
Owoh spoke further about the new cashless system that is supposed to make it easier to determine the origin and final destination of money from any transaction as it relates to full disclosure by those in authority.
“There are a lot of ways money can change hands. But the e-transaction being introduced will make it more dangerous to track. While we have a wonderful anti-Money Laundering Act, it is not an end in itself. It must be entrusted in an agency,” he said.