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UK Partners FG, Civil Society to Sensitise against Illicit Finance

The United Kingdom has extended its partnership and support to the Nigerian Government, civil society and media with the launch of the #ProtectWhatsYours campaign, which aims to raise awareness against illicit finance.

According a statement yesterday, by the Senior Communications & Public Diplomacy Officer, the British High Commission, Abuja, Atinuke Akande-Alegbe, illicit finance includes illegal financial activities such as cyber-crime, money laundering, terrorist financing, corruption and bribery, among others.

She noted that the campaign, which would be on television and online platforms, would highlight the detrimental and long-lasting effects that illegal financial activity was having on communities as well as on Nigeria’s economy.

According to her, it had been estimated that illicit financial crimes costs every Nigerian N35,000 for each year of their life, and robs the population of $18 billion annually.

Financial crime directly impacts upon the development and economic growth of Nigeria, with monies lost each year being diverted away from key areas for sector growth; including infrastructure, technology, and the health and education sector, she added.

Therefore, she pointed out that the #ProtectWhatsYours campaign seeks to encourage Nigerians to recognise and report financial crimes in their immediate environment, and calls on Nigerians in the diaspora to report from around the world, where assets could be located.

Illicit finance and associated crimes do not recognise borders, which is why the campaign was necessary to empower citizens to report suspected financial criminals to the relevant authorities both at home, and to go one step further to encourage reporting from around the world.

She quoted the British High Commissioner, H.E. Catorina Laing, to have said: “It is important we understand the direct harms that illicit finance causes, this is a crime that affects every citizen of Nigeria. The #ProtectWhatsYours campaign aims to demonstrate these harms and encourage reporting to the relevant agencies.

“This will help to continue the excellent work in investigating the individuals who are involved in illicit finance, whether this be the professional enablers who facilitate money laundering or those directly involved in corruption, tax avoidance, bribery and other crimes.

“The UK has partnered to deliver this innovative Prevent campaign and we thank all agencies, civil society groups and media organisations who collaborated to deliver the films and content. This is another excellent example of UK/Nigeria co-operation in tackling illicit financial crime.”

Illicit Finance Lead, FCDO in Nigeria, Andrew Clowes said: “This is an innovative project which has brought together Nigeria’s government agencies, civil society and media organisations who have collaborated to produce the key messages in this campaign.

“Illicit finance is a crime which cuts across all sectors of Nigeria’s society and directly impacts on the development and growth of the country. It is a crime which costs the country $18 billion per year.

“These figures are staggering. Citizens need to understand the direct impact this crime has on them and their families, and should be bold to report those they believe are involved in these crimes.”

According to the statement, each year, thousands of people in Nigeria are arrested for committing financial associated crimes.

“It is hoped that this campaign will help to reduce criminal activity even further. Tracing and recovering of stolen assets is key to the campaign message, and increased reporting will support Nigeria’s anti- crime agencies to locate and retrieve assets,” it added.

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