President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that illicit financial outflows from Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa region had the potential of aggravating the continent’s insecurity challenges and by implication, its sustainable socioeconomic development.
The President therefore charged security agencies in the continent, especially those dealing with intelligence surveillance and monitoring, to collaborate for the purposes of closing all channels through which illicit funds get to the region.
Buhari, who made the remarks in his keynote address at the opening session of the 16th conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), lamented that Africa’s development and stability of African region had, in recent times, been undermined by illicit outflows estimated at US$60 billion annually.
He said: “Frankly, we may never know the true extent of the damage. Estimates, however, suggest that African countries lose over 60 billion US dollars annually due to illicit financial outflows, a staggering amount for a continent in dire need of development finance.
“Corroborating this figure, a United Nations Report on ‘Illicit Financial Flows and the Problem of Net Resource Transfers from Africa: 1980-2009,’ observed that during the period 1980 to 2009 between $1.2 trillion and $1.4 trillion was taken out of Africa. This figure is half of the current Gross Domestic Products of all the countries of Africa”, the President added.
Describing the theme for the conference “Illicit Financial Outflows from Africa and its impact on National Security and Development’ as most auspicious given the rate of insecurity in the African region, President Buhari urged stakeholders from the intelligence community of the 52 African countries to create a template of risk factors and actionable strategies and identify the links between crime and instability in Africa.
In addition, he also charged participants at the conference to come up with recommendations on how governments in the continent could put measures in place that will ensure terrorists and criminals are denied access to financial systems.
He expatiated: “Criminals and their collaborators cheat the system through various practices, including trade mis-pricing, trade mis-invoicing, tax abuse and evasion, as well as money laundering. Several unfair commercial agreements and illegal resource extraction by multinational companies, in cahoots with their local collaborators, also create routes for illicit financial outflows.
“As partners in the fight against crime and insecurity, you know that terrorist networks, organized criminal syndicates of drugs, arms and human traffickers and sundry hostile non-state actors are actively undermining the security and stability of our countries”, Buhari stressed.
The President charged further that “any evasion of rules and regulations in ways that aid corruption in its various manifestations, including illicit financial outflows, must be vigorously fought and defeated.’’