REGIONAL COOPERATION, KEY TO CURBING MONEY LAUNDERING, TERRORISM - GIABA
BY FAVOUR AGBI & HANNAH ISIBOR
DIRECTOR General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, has called on countries in the West African region to deepen technical cooperation and expertise in the fight against terrorism in the region.
Dr. Shehu said this in New York while addressing the meeting of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) as part of activities marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).
Resolution 1373 requires all States to take a series of measures to counter terrorism. These include securing borders, tightening financial controls and cooperating with other countries to ensure terrorists are brought to justice.
According to Shehu, there are still weaknesses and gaps related to deficiencies in the national legal framework and inadequate national coordination and collaboration between competent authorities.
He noted that some ECOWAS Member States do not have laws which adequately criminalize terrorist financing, and where such laws exit, there was little or no regulation or procedure in place to ensure appropriate freezing, seizure and confiscation of terrorist funds.
He further said that there was lack of regional and international co-operation as inter-country operational cooperation is still being forged at a slow pace even though political and policy direction on AML/CFT has been achieved in the region.
Speaking further, the DG of GIABA empha-sized that the porosity of borders across West African States and influences of terrorist groups in other parts of the continent puts an extra demand on ECOWAS States to deepen collaboration within and outside the region as well as pay more attention to border control in the region.
He then noted that GIABA has continued to address the challenges and weaknesses identified through the provision of technical assistance to member States and through special purpose vehicles in order to build capacity with respect to the implementation of UNSCR 1373.
'Enhancing the imple-mentation of legislative and operational rules for the effective implemen-tation of UNSCR1373 in the region requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders - regula-tors, reporting entities, civil society, develop-ment partners, political authorities and GIABA.
'There is a need to re-engage leaders and policy makers in the region and restate the consequences of the continued inertia regarding implementing UNSCR 1373,' he said.
While pledging GIABA's continued support for Member States by providing technical assistance to key officials on the imple-mentation of the UNSCR 1373 and other UN instruments, he charged States to complement these efforts by designa-ting dedicated counter terrorism units and personnel within the law enforcement, security and border control agencies throughout the region.
'The creation of a regional group of network of counter terrorism personnel is essential for the development of counter-terrorist know-how in the region. There is a need for high level regional cooperation and coordination which will include constructive dialogue and information sharing between states,' he concluded.