President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday called on the intelligence community in Africa to tighten the loop against illicit financial flows.
Speaking during the opening session of the 16th Conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), the president attributed rising security challenges to sponsorship by those who profit from illegal financial activities. He said the development and stability on the African continent had been undermined by illicit outflows estimated to be about $60 billion annually.
"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," he said.
He urged stakeholders from the intelligence community of the 52 African countries to create a template of risk factors and actionable strategies and give priority to examining the links between crime and instability on the continent. He also challenged the conference to put measures in place that will ensure terrorists and criminals were denied access to financial systems.
"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," he added.
"My role as African Union's Anti-Corruption Champion brought me closer to appreciating more the devastating impact of corruption and illicit financial outflows on our continent," he said.
Speaking, Chairman of African Union Commission, Musa Faki Mahamat, said terrorism, radicalisation, sponsored by illicit flows, continuously affect growth on the continent, while ethnicity and religious diversities had been exploited for political gains.
Represented by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Amb. Smail Chergui, said the internet had been used as valid platform for recruitment of people into criminal activities, noting that terrorists also use sophisticated technology like drones.
The Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, said Africa loses more through illicit financial outflows than it gets in aid and Foreign Direct Investment.