By Omar Bah
The University of The Gambia (UTG) has been crowned champions of this year’s edition of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Inter-Universities Speech Contest on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism in West Africa.
Omar Dibba, a final year law student represented UTG and pulled out an outstanding performance to outsmart his fellow contestants from the universities of Cape Coast, Ghana; Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Baze University, Nigeria.
The event was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference centre on Wednesday with the theme; “Promoting Collective Action against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa” also serves as a platform for promoting knowledge of AML/CFT regimes and exchange of ideas on topical issues by directing the enormous power of human knowledge as a transformative force for the development of member States. The event targets youths as an important segment in the fight against money laundering and corruption.
Studies have shown that Africa continues losing more than $50 billion every year in illicit financial outflows.
According to director of the Intelligence Financial Unit (FIU) The Gambia, Alagie Darboe, young people have time and again made meaningful contributions to the major issues affecting “our everyday lives and their increased participation in AML/CFT related matters presents great potential”.
“It goes without saying that the menaces of money laundering and A terrorist financing are severe and far reaching. I am sure that all of us here today have been adversely affected by crime at some point in our lives, whether directly or indirectly. These experiences may have been related to theft, drug-related crime, fraud, sexual assault, or any other heinous crimes,” he added.
In a statement read on his behalf, the Minister of Interior, Seyaka Sonko said: “It has been corroborated by researchers and scholars that since, youths constitute the bulk part of our population, the description of their vulnerability increasingly falls on both as victims and perpetrators of financial crime, predominantly in relation to drug trafficking, cyber fraud, trafficking in person, and migrant smuggling.”
This, he added, will require all hands-on deck, to reverse the trend, “if forum like this and other platforms are created for young people as it will enlighten, expose and equip them with right information and required knowledge to effectively and efficiently fight against these unscrupulous act”.
Also, in a statement read on his behalf, the UTG vice chancellor, Professor Herbert Robinson said the battle against money laundering and terrorism financing is “a complex one that requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders, and a high degree of consciousness of the threats that our lack of knowledge about or inaction in this crusade may pose”.
The Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow said the Financial Intelligence Unit of The Gambia will as part of its mandate continue to embark on outreach initiatives, aimed at Sensitizing the public, including youths, on the important stake they have in fighting all forms of financial crime.