The Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Dr. Abdullahi Shehu has called on national, regional and international actors to close ranks in order to effectively fight the menace of terrorism in Africa. Dr. Shehu made this call in an address at the United Nations Security Council meeting on combating terrorism in Africa in New York, United States of America, Monday, 13 May 2013.
According to Dr. Shehu, most African countries are incapable of dealing with the problems in isolation due to many challenges confronting them. He noted that the impact of terrorist acts which are manifested in various dimensions is widespread, adding that the patterns and locations of these terrorist acts depend on the ideology, intents and capability of the perpetrators. “While most terrorist activities have been driven by extremist and political motivations, we are yet to see perhaps a devastating pattern if terrorist groups are driven by a feeling of deprivation, hunger, poverty and unemployment, and that may be even more difficult to control in a country” he added.
The Director General of GIABA outlined the factors that exacerbate terrorism to include political corruption, weaknesses in the legal framework and institutional mechanisms for the prevention of terrorists acts; inadequate skills and manpower for effective law enforcement; insufficient resources yet competing priorities as well as inadequate inter-agency cooperation within countries and internationally.
Speaking further, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu conceded that any strategic approach to the prevention and control of terrorism must also address the financing aspects of terrorism, which include a clear definition of “terrorist funds and assets”, institutionalization of a designated authority for the enforcement of freezing orders, clear policies or procedures for the effective dissemination of the lists of terrorists circulated by the UN Committees among financial and non-financial institutions; adequate capacity at the national level to designate persons identified as terrorists and determine the procedure for the freezing of assets; provision of information and or proper understanding of the de-listing process; need for diligent investigation and prosecution, security of borders among others.
According to him, in a bid to rid the ECOWAS region of terrorism, the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the regional body has among other instruments, adopted the ECOWAS Strategy against Terrorism during its 42nd Session held on 27-28 February 2013 as well as established the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa. Since its establishment, GIABA, he noted, has assisted member States to enact laws against terrorist financing.
Proffering solutions to the menace of terrorism in Africa, Dr. Shehu said there is the need for strategic partnerships among national, regional and international actors. Furthermore, he advocated for a stronger political commitment and leadership, establishment of an effective early warning mechanism for the prevention of conflict and terrorism, capacity building and support to States to promote rule of law, democracy and good governance for the prevention of conflict, and the maintenance of international peace and security, provision of technical assistance, provision of equal trading opportunities for developing countries and the need to improve and sustain cooperation and coordination at the national, regional and international levels, including the involvement of civil society organizations and the private sector.