The Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Dr Solomon Arase has described Crime Reporters Association as a strategic partner in crime management and security policy implementation.
Arase, who paid glowing tribute to the associating during its annual lecture series and award ceremony held at the Providence Hotel, Lagos, noted that the first attraction to him, is the mission of CRAN which, as the umbrella body of all crime reporters, engages in the monitoring, reportage, and sensitization of citizens on crime-related and internal security issues.
According to him, “The Association also holds security professionals accountable in a manner that positions it as a credible and authentic force within the internal security and media space of Nigeria. This much is being exemplified under the current leadership of Olalekan Olabulo, as President of the Association.
“It is most elating to note that under the leadership of Mr. Olabulo, the roles, commitment, and focus of the CRAN have been strengthened and today’s event further testifies to this reality.
“Aside this, on a professional level, I had the privilege of associating with and monitoring the activities of the Association all through my service years in the Nigeria Police Force. In particular, during my tenure as the Inspector General of Police, the Association was an invaluable strategic partner whose input fundamentally aided me in the accomplishment of my strategic leadership mandate.
“Indeed, the vital feedback that I routinely tapped from the Association in relation to the monitoring of the internal security space, shaped my policing vision and aided in the perfection of my crime management action plans. Even in my current capacity as the Chairman of the Nigeria Police Service Commission, the Association remains a helpful strategic partner and I want to believe that the current Force leadership is also reaping from the broad network, patriotism, and partnership of CRAN. For these, I hold the Association in very high esteem and see them as indispensable partners in the broad crime management architecture of Nigeria.
“Secondly, in Report which was published by Vanguard Newspaper on June 28, 2023, the Anti-Corruption Agencies of Nigeria, a Group which is part of a campaign funded by the British government to deter financial criminals was quoted as estimating that $18billion is lost to illicit financial crimes every year in Nigeria! The Report underscores the depth of this crime and confirms that financial crimes, underdevelopment, and national insecurity are inextricably intertwined.
” I am therefore, captivated by the theme of this year’s lecture which focuses on financial crime and national security. The fact that CRAN chose to mainstream the discourse on financial crime is indicative of the fact that the Association is fully in tune with the current crime dynamics both nationally and globally. It also defines the Association as one that is firmly committed to contributing its quota to the national discourse that is directed at dissecting this major security threat and draw on the expertise of security professionals towards evolving pathways that could be engaged to mitigate the effects of the crime. For this thoughtfulness, CRAN, once again, attracts my admiration and commendation.
“In this regard, I must note that modern financial crimes are being aided by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and they have become a major and integral component of the globalization struggles. The dynamics of financial crimes increasingly present new sets of realities and challenges within the internal and global security space and the consequences resonates not just on our national development but on our national security interests and global ratings amongst the comity of nations.
“This being so, security agents must, of necessity, evolve new thoughts, leverage on distinctive professional network, and acquire unique professional capabilities, if the war on financial criminals is to be won on a sustainable basis. The attainment of this projection requires an enhanced technical, intellectual, and professional capacity of the Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and other security agencies in understanding the complex trails of financial criminals and appreciating the legal framework that regulate the investigation and prosecution of such cases.
“The questions here, however, are:
Do the national security and intelligence community have the institutional capacity to professionally detect, prevent, and deploy modern investigative tools towards dissecting the criminal signatures of these fraudsters, and identifying pieces of technically-aided evidence of prosecutorial value that could engender the successful prosecution of the criminals?
“Have the nation’s security institutions built strong inter-agency synergy that could stimulate a coordinated and symbiotic approach in dealing with this threat including maximizing the tools of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU)?
“As a nation, do we appreciate the national security consequences of financial crimes well enough to evolve a National Protocol that could be engaged as a professional template and national response particularly, in the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of financial crimes by security agencies?
As a nation, what financial crime safeguards and financial crime warning system do we have, and how effective are they ?
Granted the transnational nature of this crime, have the nation’s security agencies been able to effectively build global partnership and leverage on the strength of global agencies like the INTERPOL among others, as well as bilateral and multi-lateral relationships as a strategic approach towards addressing this threat?
“Are our criminal laws dealing with financial crimes as well as our judicial system effective enough to deter or aid the delivery of justice to financial criminals and their victims?
What are the obligations of the citizens and to what extent have they been assisting security agencies in the quest to address the menace of financial crimes?
“Ladies and gentlemen, these, to me, are critical issues that require frank interrogation in an engagement of this nature, if we are truly committed to addressing the theme of this Year’s Lecture series in an all-inclusive manner. Towards this end, aside looking at the scope of financial crimes in Nigeria, the most rewarding outcome I look forward to in measuring the success of this event would be the extent to which the following five issues are addressed:
The quality of the recommendations on pathways to bridging the capacity gap of the security agencies in relation to understanding the complex dynamics and highly technical field of financial crimes and the extent to which the recommendations could aid in closing the capacity gap of security agencies in unraveling the constantly advancing modus operandi, trends, and patterns of financial crime networks towards bringing them to deserved justice.
The extent to which the outcome can engender a stronger interagency collaboration, not only between security and intelligence agencies, but also with key strategic partners like the Central Bank of Nigeria, financial sector institutions, the National Identity Management Commission, and other sundry bodies whose roles are either directly or indirectly helpful to law enforcement efforts in mitigating the threats.
“The quality of the recommendations on how security agencies could leverage on global opportunities and bilateral relationships towards staying miles ahead of the criminal elements and building transnational bonds in disrupting their criminal networks.
Guidance on the development of National Protocols directed at guaranteeing professionally grounded, technically supported and intelligence-led investigation, as well as effective prosecution of offenders involved in financial crimes.
Recommendations on strengthening financial crimes safeguards and fraud alarm system, particularly, by corporate players and public agencies.
“For the Nigeria Police, I can assure that the Police Service Commission has been synergizing effectively with the Force leadership and the Federal Government towards enhancing the institutional capacity of the Force in responding to the dynamics of crimes including financial crimes in a professionally efficient manner.
“This initiative includes exploring international training opportunities that will expose detectives to best global policing standards, thoughts, procedures, and tools in the investigation of such specialized cases. The initiatives also include on-going efforts by the Commission to develop Protocols that will regulate criminal investigation activities of the Nigeria Police Force. This effort is being pursued in close partnership with seasoned active and retired detectives as well as the Civil Society Organisations and international development partners.
“In addition, I am aware that the Inspector General of Police is pursuing sets of actions that are directed at reorganizing the Force Criminal Investigation Department towards restoring the primacy of the Department in criminal investigations of the nature of crime being discussed.
“In all these, the Commission, under my watch, will continue to be active in giving effect to the Federal Government’s Police Reform Agenda and other frameworks designed to strengthen inter-agency collaboration and security sector capacity building as a strategic pathway to addressing financial crimes, safeguarding our national security, and guaranteeing the trust and confidence of national and global investors in our financial system and the capacity of our security agencies.
“Against this background, I wish to once again, commend the leadership and members of CRAN for their foresight in putting up this lecture series and I assure them of my goodwill and support just as I look forward to collaborating with them in the attainment of our mutual mandate as patriots.
“I wish you all a fruitful and professionally enriching engagement and thank you for your attendance and rapt attention.”