Terrorism Sponsors Using Young men to Launder Funds with Cryptocurrency – EFCC Chairman reveals

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ola Olukoyede, has raised the alarm about young men being used as intermediaries to launder terrorism funds through Cryptocurrency trading.

The anti-graft agency boss made this known on Wednesday at a Multi-stakeholder Town Hall Meeting at the National Level on Preventing terrorism financing, and violent extremism in the North-East organized by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria).

Olukoyede berated the phenomenon of Not For Profit and Civil Society organizations exploiting victims of terror for profit even as he urged Nigerians to support the war against terror by being cooperative.

The Chairman shed light on the agency’s ongoing investigations into virtual currency trading, particularly cryptocurrencies, as they pose a new avenue for criminal activities.


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He said,

“In addition to the activities of these Not For Profits, we have also realized that these young men are used to launder money now. I’m sure some of you are aware of our activities in the area of investigating virtual currency trading, cryptocurrency and all of that. They are also potential platforms to fund terrorism.

Some of our discoveries lately when we went into investigating some of these platforms was mind boggling. We thought Binance was a major one, yes it was and we’re prosecuting them but there much more platforms that we have discovered. I’m sure you are aware that EFCC got an order to freeze over a thousand accounts. It will shock you what some of those accounts have been used for. Some of them are used to sponsor these terrorism activities. And they use some of these our young men and they don’t even know that the people who gave them money to trade also fund terrorists. So you can imagine the dimension, the whole problem is taking. So it is important for us to adopt the use of technology.”

The EFCC aims to adopt technology to track every naira and prevent illicit funds from circulating back into the system, especially those derived from ransom payments and other criminal activities.

“I was comparing works with an assistant director in the FBI, a friend of mine and he said ‘from our system in the US, we can track every dollar created to anywhere in the world’ That is what we’re also going into, to adopt technology and see how we can track every naira. Some of these terrorists are funded by the money made within the system. People go into banditry, people pay ransoms and they go and give them the money. The same money finds its way back into the system. If someone pays ransom in naira, they don’t take it to America to spend, they don’t take it to Ghana to spend cause they don’t accept naira there. The money finds its way back into the system. So once we have the technology to track some of these things, then the work will become easier for us to do.” He said.

The Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Edwin Harris Jnr represented by Timothy Melaye, highlighted the pressing issue of small arms and light weapons trafficking during his address.

He stressed the detrimental impact of wrongfully acquired funds in fueling criminal enterprises such as kidnapping and corruption. He further emphasized that such activities not only empower criminal elements but also undermine governance and societal stability.

He said:

“You will agree with me that one of the keys issues is trafficking of small arms and light weapons. This is very very critical because most of those who do kidnapping or corruption end up empowering those who will speak for them. The point is that as long as you have wrong money in your hand, you will use it for wrong purpose. He will buy arms, he will sponsor Civil society organisations to protest against ICPC, tomorrow against Code of Conduct, next tomorrow against EFCC. Why? Because there is wrong money in wrong hands. We must be bold enough to say the truth even to the powers that be. What is wrong is wrong. Therefore we must all come together and continue to work and continue to support all of our agencies, the security agencies, the community leaders, religious leaders, to raise our voices against the threats.”

He called for collective effort in tackling the scourge,

“It is not the work of the president alone, it is not the work of the ministers alone, it is not the work of the chairmen of the agencies alone, it must be a community work.”

On his part, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani sounded the alarm regarding Nigeria’s escalating challenges in combating terrorist financing, exacerbated by the country’s ranking in the 2023 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) as the eighth most terror-affected nation globally.

He explained that inadequate awareness at the grassroots level hinders effective monitoring and prompt responses to potential terrorist activities and violent extremism.

He said:

“In March 2024, the Federal Government naming 15 entities including nine individuals and six Bureau De Change operators and firms that are said to be involved in terrorism financing has highlighted the pressing issue of terrorism and terrorist financing in the country.
As poor awareness at community levels hamper collective monitoring and timely response to warning signals of potential terrorist activities and violent extremism, the security situation in Nigeria has become increasingly complex and uncertain, as various non-state armed groups have emerged and consolidated coercive power to terrorize the population in Nigeria, as evident with the activities of the armed bandits, criminal gangs, separatist groups, religious fundamentalists, amorphous kidnappers, and many others often referred to in the Nigerian media as “unknown gunmen”.
The consequences of terrorism have continued to aggravate extreme poverty rates among Nigerians, internally displacement, devastated livelihoods, just as opportunities for broader growth, development and prosperity are destroyed.
Moreover, weak security and surveillance at national borders contribute to the issue of terrorism financing in Nigeria. This lack of control and monitoring allows terrorists, as well as small arms and light weapons, to infiltrate the country quickly. The former Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, revealed that 137 out of about 261 borders in the North-East and North-West are unguarded. With such easy access, terrorist organisations conduct operations and finance their activities more efficiently. This stresses the imperative of strengthening security measures at borders by Nigerian authorities to prevent the inflow of funds and resources for terrorist activities.”

While expressing commitment to the collaboration, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Dr Musa Aliyu said the agency would stand at the fore front.

“The collaboration of every sector represented here is crucial. By combining our strengths, enhancing transparency, and reinforcing regulatory frameworks, we can sever the lifelines that enable terrorism. Your dedication and relentless efforts in law enforcement, civic engagement, and legislative governance are vital to our collective success.
As we move forward, let the ICPC’s commitment to this cause be clear — we are ready to stand at the forefront of these efforts, ensuring that our collective actions lead to meaningful and lasting impacts,” He said.


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