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U.S. working with Nigeria to block terrorism financing – official

The United States government is working with the Nigerian government to protect its financial system from being used to support terrorism.

U.S. Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary, Eric Meyer, disclosed this during a media roundtable in Abuja on Friday.

Meyer is part of a team from the U.S. that is currently in Nigeria to interface with the country’s security and financial institutions on how best to counter terrorism in the country and the continent at large.

“Our main interest is in finance, particularly as it is related to terrorism, Meyer said, adding that his office works to counter the financing of terrorism through money laundering and other avenues for corruption.

“We really engaged with our counterparts here and the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit on how to protect and safeguard Nigeria’s financial system, how to make sure that it is not being used and can not be used by illicit actors to support terrorism and other activities.

“We think this is very important in Nigeria. Nigeria has a robust banking system, one that is very important for your economy but also important for the region and has a link with the United States financial system. And we want that to be a safe and secure financial system going forward.”

He said they also had an important conversation about Nigeria’s technology sector, adding that: “Nigeria has a very robust financial technology industry and we are looking at how to make advances in using financial technology and we want to make sure that it also remains safe and secure.”

Gregory D. LoGerfo, the Deputy Coordinator for the U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism, said the bureau had spent $200 million since 2018 on counter-terrorism in the Sahel and the coast of West Africa.

“Our Bureau since 2018 has spent $200 million invested in the Sahel and the coast of West African governments to help them constrain terrorists’ facilitation of resources and fighters, conduct terrorism investigations and prosecutions, mitigate and respond to terrorism incidents and counter violent extremism.

“We have a regional approach and we have consulted with Nigerian officials on how we can integrate our efforts a little better with respect to the border,” LoGerfo who led the team to Nigeria said.

He said his team met with officials of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NTCT), the National Security Adviser, the Department of State Security as well as the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

“Our goal is to emphasise the importance of our partnership in moving forward together and sharing our security challenges and objectives. There are a lot of things going on in the region and I want to focus this trip on what we could do together and to help our shared security interests.

On his part, David Galbraith, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, of the State Department International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Bureau, said his bureau works with partners globally to fight crime, fight the trafficking of illicit drugs and improve civilian security.

Galbraith said he met with Nigerian officials in the criminal justice, drugs and trafficking institutions to design a better working relationship.

“Here in Nigeria, we have long-standing partnerships with a number of criminal justice sectors and institutions including the Nigeria Police Force and some of the high courts and magistrate’s courts in the country as well as the Nigerian Correctional Services,” he said.