Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, has linked the cause of Nigeria’s problems to the flow of illicit money.
Speaking at the second anti-money laundering/combating financial terrorism stakeholders consultative workshop organised by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) in Abuja on Wednesday, Ribadu said Nigeria has not reached its full potential owing to terrorism and money laundering.
“Everything that is wrong about Nigeria came from dirty money. If you can follow it, get it back and punish these people, then you have cured the problem of Nigeria,” he said.
“When I look around I see a lot of investments that were done with dirty money. Government needs help to identify and arrest these people. Though it may seem like a daunting task, with professionals like ACAMS, Nigeria is ready to achieve this.”
Emphasising the need for a strong anti-graft agency, Ribadu said that about N200 million was recovered with the restructuring of the banking sector.
“In 2003, Nigeria was on the black list of most developed countries, especially US for money laundering. This meant that our financial institutions found it difficult doing business in foreign lands,” he said.
“We could not use MasterCard, visa card or credit card. Our financial institutions could not access international loan. At one time, it was almost impossible for a Nigerian to open an account in the US or UK.
“Nigerians travelling abroad were subjected to serious scrutiny relating to drugs, terrorism and money laundering. The list is endless.
“But now things are changing. Nigerian banks are now listed on the London Stock Exchange and getting access to foreign loans. This is a sign of improvement; however, more can be done.”