Months after a bill to regulate non-governmental organisations (NGOs) failed in the National Assembly, the Federal Government has announced plans to profile NGOs.
The federal government says the profiling is to ensure compliance with regulations against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Director of the Nigerian Financial intelligence Unit (NFIU), Francis Usani, said this at a regional workshop on money laundering organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), in Abuja, yesterday.
Usani, who is also the national correspondent of GIABA, said profiling would address some “deficient NGOs” in Nigeria.
“The Budget Office is doing something to address some deficient NGOs and also, engaging the NFIU to profile some NGOs in the country.
“This is going to be a continuous exercise; to profile and see the NGOs that are actually committed to their main cause and those not committed to any cause. These will probably be de-listed and may be, their registrations removed.
“There has been this misunderstanding by some NGOs who had come out to oppose the regulations put in place by the government, but these are for international best practices.
“We cannot just let NGOs run around the streets of Nigeria unmonitored or uncoordinated, otherwise, this will lead to serious problems.”
Usani added that the workshop became necessary, in order to ensure consistency in sensitising non-profit organisations to their obligations and that the workshop would also make NGOs better acquainted with the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations.
“It is just very crucial that NGOs need to be sensitised because most of them do not really understand their obligations under the AML/ CFT regulations and laws.
“Like obligations to report transactions to the relevant authorities, to keep record of their transactions, to conduct due diligence on their sponsors.
“These are necessary because they could ignorantly receive donor funds from people whose aims are basically to finance terrorism or maybe cause some kind of mayhem.”
The NGO bill failed in the parliament after it was opposed by civic groups, activists and many Nigerians who saw it as government’s efforts to stifle NGOs.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the three-day workshop is aimed at developing effective frameworks and structure to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing through non-profit organisations (NPOs).
GIABA Director-General, Kimelabalou Aba said the workshop is a follow-up to a previous regional workshop on preventing terrorist abuse of non-profit organisations held in Lome, Togo, last year.
Aba recalled that the 2017 workshop highlighted gaps in the implementation of AML/CFT requirements by NGOs.
“Lately, we have noticed that NPOs have been used by terrorists or terrorist organisations, to raise funds; it is within that framework GIABA organised this workshop.
“This workshop is directed towards reporting entities, namely NPOs, in order to help to be better equipped, so as not to be used for terrorist purposes.”