Only 64 non-governmental organisations and civil rights groups reported to the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering between January and August 2021, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit said on Wednesday.

The agency, which said the development was not too good for the smooth running of the NGOs and CSOs, advised them to come under one umbrella association that would regulate their activities for smooth disbursement of grants, especially from international donors.

The Chief Executive Officer, NFIU, Tukur Moddibo, represented by the Head, Compliance and Examination, Ibrahim Muhammad, stated these during an international conference organised by the President of the GlobalTech Empowerment Foundation, Dr. Godwin Asogbon, for over 500 NGOs in Abuja.

The event, which was to commemorate the 2021 International Day of Charity, had as its theme, ‘Legal framework/guidelines for claiming grants/donations from foreign donors to NGOs, CBOs and associations in Nigeria’.

While calling for due diligence in all their activities, Moddibo regretted that some NGOs were sometimes being used as cover-up to exploit grants from donor agencies.

Moddibo called on the NGOs to come up for registration so that the true owners of the groups would be known.

Moddibo stated, “NGOs have abused the structure to get grants as some have been indicted for diverting grants meant for salvaging the poor. These people are in the same space, who are exploiting these grants, and they must not be allowed to destroy the structure of the organisations.

“Even though the NFIU is not responsible for approving or rejecting grants, the fact is the sources of these grants and how they are utilised is very important. We are advising them to register with the NFIU. Right now, only 64 NGOs have actually been sending their reports to the SCUML out of hundreds of thousands in this country.

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“The NGOs that even report are the international ones. The local ones don’t register, report or comply, yet they want grants. Nobody will come after them if they register, it means they are transparent. We get to see these transactions through banks.

“It is in the law, there is a sanction for non-compliance. They all have bank accounts and there is a fine for not reporting suspicious transactions. I am not aware that the SCUML has punished any NGO for not registering. We are trying to sensitise them before we go after them. Maybe they don’t even know, so we are trying to sensitise them.”

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), represented by the Special Assistant to the President on Financial Crimes, Abiodun Aikomo, called for the regulation of the NGO space for developmental objectives and strong collaboration towards strengthening developmental ideas.

.Copyright PUNCH.

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