By Sadiq Nuhu
The conviction of a former governor of Adamawa State, Bala Nggilari, the first since the return of democracy in 1999, is a booster to President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
Journalists Network on Money laundering/Terrorist Financing, Nigeria, a GIABA-affiliated advocacy group, disclosed this in a statement by its national coordinator, Odan Agbese and Program Advisor, Muhammad Nuruddeen.
Journalists Network on Money laundering/Terrorist Financing is an inter-country network for tracking money laundering and financial terrorism of GIABA – a specialized institution of ECOWAS with the mandate to assist its members build a strong anti-money laundering and terrorist financing framework.
The network said the commitment of the federal government to the fight against corruption has been deepened by the five-year jail term handed down the former governor.
“Mr Ngilari is the first Nigerian governor to be sent to jail by a Nigerian court over embezzlement of public funds by any civilian administration in the country,” the statement said.
Mr Ngilari was Adamawa state governor between October 2014 and May 2015.
“This is a welcome development as President Muhammadu Buhari administration adopts strict measures to eliminate theft of public funds, money laundering and terrorist financing.”
There are at least 12 former governors facing corruption charges at various local courts across the country. But Mr Ngilari’s conviction is the first to be done by a local court.
Former Governor of oil-rich Delta State, James Ibori, was jailed by a court in London over money laundering. He has return to Nigeria recently after serving the jail term.
“We are calling on Buhari’s administration to bolster the efforts of its anti-graft agencies in their mandate of prosecuting corruption cases,” the statement said.
The GIABA anti-money laundering and terrorist financing advocacy in Nigeria also urged the National Assembly to expedite action on the confirmation of the executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
“The delay in confirmation of the head of the EFCC by the National Assembly sends a negative signal to the international community on its stance on anti-corruption. The legislative arm of the Nigerian government plays a crucial role in the fight against money-laundering and terrorist financing,” the advocacy group said.
The statement said Nigeria must strengthen its anti-graft agencies, “particularly having successfully crushed the 6-year-old Boko Haram terrorism. As Nigeria moves to the post-insurgency era, the EFCC should be empowered to tackle the challenges of terrorist financing and money laundering in the country.”