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Osinbajo: Money Laundering is West Africa’s Greatest Existential Threat

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  • Osinbajo: Money Laundering is West Africa’s Greatest Existential Threat

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Saturday in Abuja that money laundering posed serious threat to crucial existential issues in West Africa, stressing that the menace needs to be tackled with utmost unity and determination. Osinbajo stated this at the opening ceremony of the 18th ministerial committee meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

The vice president said the political and economic stability of countries in the sub-region depended heavily on a successful war against the movement of the proceeds of crime. He lamented the obstacles to the repatriation of looted funds stashed in the developed countries, despite various mutual assistance treaties and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

Osinbajo stated, “At risk from money laundering, especially the laundering of proceeds of corruption, and terrorist financing, are the stability of our financial and political systems, and ultimately the development of our countries and the prosperity of our people.

“What this means is that we are dealing here with an existential threat – it’s either we wipe it out or it wipes us out.”

He said, “We know that the lines between terrorist groups, corrupt politicians, traffickers (whether of drugs, guns or people); fraudsters; smugglers; kidnappers; illegal oil bunkerers, etc., have always been blurry; that these groups have always found complementary need for one another’s tactics and strategies. Indeed, if there’s one thing that the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, from Al Qaeda to ISIS to Al-Shabaab, have in common, it is the ease and expertise with which they diversify their criminal activity while retaining their overarching goal of inflicting maximum devastation.”

Osinbajo said the wide-ranging dangers of money laundering and other financial crimes should spur the countries to treat such criminalities with zero tolerance. “We have for long enough affirmed our commitment as a sub-region to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. We must now back this intent with forceful action and visible results,” he said.

He acknowledged the previous efforts of countries within the sub-region to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, but said more needed to be done, especially to keep abreast of new criminal tactics.

According to the vice president, “Information sharing is very important to the success of our fight. This means that on the one hand we should rise above the temptations of secretiveness and mutual suspicion; and on the other hand, we must do everything in our power to sustain trust and confidence by safeguarding every piece of information that is being shared across national databases.

“We must also strive to work beyond the barriers imposed by the differences in our various legal systems, bearing in our minds that the criminals we are tackling have never allowed themselves to be held back by these obstacles.”

Osinbajo lamented the barriers to the return of looted funds from the developed countries. “Permit me to raise a matter of considerable importance to many of our nations,” he told the ministers from member states of the GIABA (the 15 ECOWAS countries, and Sao Tome and Principe), explaining, “It is the difficulty we experience in repatriating proceeds of corruption from financial institutions of the more developed nations.

“Despite numerous mutual legal assistance treaties and conventions, it is obvious that we are not making the sort of progress we expect to see. It is unconscionable, in our view, to have stolen funds in a bank within the jurisdiction of an FATF country and to have to go through a rigorous obstacle course to retrieve the funds and even when such funds are to be returned after several years, humiliating conditions are attached.”

He said, “It is the view of Nigeria that FATF countries must, as a matter of respect for the spirit of our collaboration, and with the same efficiency and zero tolerance for quibbling, ensure the smooth repatriation of proceeds of corruption to the economies from where they were stolen.

“The other issue is the dangers posed by anonymous corporate ownership. If nothing else, the Panama Papers, and now the Paradise papers, clearly illustrate the global scale and spread of this problem. So this is a global challenge and nothing less than a truly global approach will be needed to tackle it.”

Osinbajo, however, commended the United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands, and Denmark for establishing public registers of the real, human owners of companies within their territories.

He stated, “We call on other G8 and G20 countries not only to follow suit but also to initiate actions to end corporate secrecy in some of their dependencies. We cannot have anonymous ownership of companies, trusts and other arrangements designed to cover ownership of assets, and at the same time expect optimal results from anti-money laundering measures.”

Meanwhile, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, has called on companies, development agencies, and donors in the sub-region, like MTN Foundation, European Union, United Nations agencies, and African Capacity Building Foundation to support the parliament with resources needed for the execution of its development projects. Cisse Lo stated this yesterday in Abuja at the closing of the ECOWAS Parliament, Fourth Legislature, 2017 Donors Conference.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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Iran Set for Presidential Elections on June 28 Following Raisi’s Tragic Death

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Ebrahim Raisi

The political landscape in Iran was abruptly reshaped following the untimely demise of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash over the weekend.

Now, the nation is poised for a significant transition with presidential elections scheduled for June 28 as reported by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will assume the role of president in the interim, in accordance with the constitution of the Islamic Republic.

This unexpected development comes in the wake of a tragic accident that claimed the lives of Raisi and eight others, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, in north-western Iran.

The government attributed the crash to adverse weather conditions and dense fog in the mountainous region.

As Iran prepares for the upcoming elections, candidates will have the opportunity to register starting May 30.

However, prospective candidates will undergo thorough vetting by the Guardian Council, a body comprising 12 clerics and jurists responsible for administering elections.

The council’s scrutiny is anticipated to be particularly stringent, given the unexpected vacancy in the presidency and the significance of the upcoming transition.

While Vice President Mokhber has assumed leadership in the interim period, it remains uncertain whether he will contest the presidential elections himself.

Speculation abounds as to who will emerge as the frontrunner in the electoral race, with many analysts suggesting that the clerical establishment and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may prefer a candidate aligned with Raisi’s ultraconservative stance, characterized by deep-seated distrust of the United States and Israel.

Raisi’s tenure as president was marked by polarizing policies and events.

His association with mass arrests and executions following violent protests in 2022, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody for allegedly violating Iran’s dress code, stirred controversy both domestically and internationally.

As such, his passing has not only left a void in Iran’s leadership but has also raised questions about the future trajectory of the nation’s politics.

With the presidential elections fast approaching, Iran finds itself at a critical juncture, grappling with the aftermath of a tragic loss while navigating the complexities of its political landscape.

As the nation mourns the passing of President Raisi, all eyes are now on the forthcoming electoral process, which is poised to shape Iran’s future in the post-Raisi era.

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Iran Mourns: Helicopter Crash Claims Lives of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian

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Ebrahim Raisi

A tragic helicopter crash has claimed the lives of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, sending shockwaves across the nation and plunging the country into mourning.

The fatal incident occurred in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, where the helicopter carrying the two senior officials and several other passengers crashed, resulting in the loss of all on board.

The crash site, now a scene of charred wreckage, stands as a somber reminder of the untimely demise of these key figures in Iranian politics.

President Raisi, who assumed office in August 2021, was widely regarded for his commitment to serving the Iranian people and advancing the nation’s interests on the global stage.

His tenure as president was marked by efforts to strengthen Iran’s position in regional affairs and enhance diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.

Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian played a pivotal role in shaping Iran’s foreign policy, particularly in fostering closer ties with neighboring nations in the Middle East, including Arab countries across the Gulf.

His diplomatic acumen and dedication to advancing Iran’s interests earned him respect both domestically and internationally.

The news of their tragic deaths has elicited an outpouring of grief and condolences from leaders and citizens alike, both within Iran and abroad.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed his deep sadness over the loss, highlighting President Raisi’s commitment to justice, peace, and the upliftment of the Muslim world.

Similarly, the European Union extended its sincere condolences to the families of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, acknowledging the profound impact of their untimely passing on the Iranian nation.

The helicopter crash not only robbed Iran of two of its most prominent leaders but also left a void in the country’s political landscape.

As the nation grapples with this immense loss, tributes pour in from all corners, commemorating the contributions of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian to the advancement of Iran’s interests and the well-being of its people.

The legacy of these esteemed leaders will endure in the hearts and minds of Iranians, serving as a guiding light for future generations as they navigate the complexities of governance and diplomacy in an ever-changing world.

Iran mourns the loss of two of its finest sons, whose dedication and service will be remembered for years to come.

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