Growing levels of social vices in West Africa creating problems – General Gowon
General Yakubu Gowon, Former Head of State of Nigeria, has noted with concern that the growing level of sophistication in social vices has also predicated the sophistication of crimes like corruption, internet fraud and human and drug trafficking.
He said the proceeds from these illicit business encouraged money laundering and fueled the funding of terrorism, which has a wider negative implication for society.
General Gowon said this at the 12th Ministerial Committee Meeting (MCM) of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) in Accra.
The GIABA Ministerial Committee meeting comprises of Ministers of Finance, Interior and Justices from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states
He said there is a disturbing characteristic where some of the main characters behind the rising rates of crime generally tend to control obscene wealth that can be used to derail the democratic process in any part of the sub-region.
General Gowon, who is also a founding Father of ECOWAS, said the role of GIABA to integrate the sub-region with the rest of the World in the war against any crime especially terrorism cannot be over-emphasized.
He said GIABA has done a good job in raising awareness, establishing structures and supporting ECOWAS member states to build both structural and human capacity to address the aforementioned menaces in the sub-region.
General Gowon thanked the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of member states for their commitment and support that has translated to the modest achievement of GIABA in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-region.
Dr Abdullahi Shehu, Director General of GIABA, said Ghana had since 2010 put in place legislative measures to fight money laundering and the finance of terrorism and commended the Government for the commitment.
He said the legislative measures, coupled with the full operationalization of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), have led to the de-listing of Ghana from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Public Statement for an unprecedented record of nine months.
Dr Shehu said the West African sub-region was making progress in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism and that some member states were not showing adequate political will, coupled with inadequate inter-agency cooperation and therefore delays in prosecution of cases relating to money laundering.
He charged members of the Ministerial Committee to ensure that their countries show the needed political will and support in the fight against money laundering adding that “money laundering destroys competition and economy and it is important that all member states show commitment and the needed political will to fight it.
Mr Vladimir Nechaev, Vice President of FATF, said there was a revised recommendation on money laundering and terrorism financing to provide tools to successfully overcome the menace.
He said the recommendations has been expanded to deal with new threats such as the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to give more scope to the risk-based approach which allows for more effective allocation of resources to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.