Fed Govt uncovers 96 Boko Haram, ISWAP financiers

By AdvocateNews on 04/02/2022

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…Name the sponsors – PDP challenges FG

…Govt should stop deceiving Nigerians, says Falana

The Federal Government says it has uncovered 96 financiers of terrorism across the country, especially those backing Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).

This was disclosed by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a press conference on the administration’s fight against corruption in Abuja on Thursday, February 3.

However, Mohammed did not give the names of the sponsors and companies linked with terrorism.

He said, “For its part, the analysis by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), in 2020-2021, revealed 96 financiers of terrorism in Nigeria, 424 associates/supporters of the financiers, involvement of about 123 companies and 33 bureaux de change, in addition to identifying 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and seven co-conspirators. The analysis has resulted in the arrest of 45 suspects who will soon face prosecution and seizure of assets.”

Mohammed added that from the NFIU’s analysis of tax evasion and tax avoidance linked to corruption, the agency identified N3.0tn in VAT and N3.7tn in Withholding Tax due to the government.

“The NFIU has also sent 1,165 intelligence reports on cases of corruption, money laundering and other serious offences to 27 domestic agencies for investigation, prosecution and asset recovery,” the minister said.

He revealed that on terrorism financing, the NFIU had intelligence exchanges on Boko Haram, ISWAP, banditry, kidnapping and others with 19 countries.

“During the same period, 2020-2021, the organisation returned fraudulently-obtained funds totalling US$103.7m, 3,000 Pound Sterling; 7,695 Singapore Dollar and 1,091 Euros to 11 countries of victims who came into the country,” Mohammed stated.

Responding however, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Dele Ologunagba, stated, “If they have found terror sponsors, they should name them.”

Ologunagba said the Buhari regime had no moral right to boast about fighting corruption when Transparency International had already revealed that Nigeria was the second most corrupt country in West Africa.

The PDP spokesman said it was unfortunate that the APC could still be playing games with the identities of terror sponsors despite the fact that thousands were being killed on Buhari’s watch.

“Over 10, 398 Nigerians were killed in 2021 alone and they are still telling us about plans to reveal terror sponsors,” he said.

This would not be the first time that the Buhari administation would claim to have identified terror sponsors.

In the United Arab Emirates in 2020, six Boko Haram sponsors were convicted for funding terrorism through money transfers from Dubai to Nigeria. Two of the convicts were jailed for life while others were sentenced between four to 10 years.

Through the bureau de change they operated, they wired a total of $782,000 to the terror group in 2019. According to UAE court proceedings, one of the facilitators of the transaction identified simply as ‘Alhaji Sa’idu,’ is allegedly based in Nigeria and responsible for facilitating the group’s access to funds from its sponsors.”  Another, “Alhaji Ashiru,” is tagged as a “Nigerian government official and senior undercover Boko Haram member” who facilitates the transfer of misappropriated public funds to the group.”

In May 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, said 400 bureau de change operators who were Boko Haram sponsors had been arrested. Malami stated that they were arrested during an operation coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Department of State Services, NFIU and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He further revealed that the suspects were arrested northern states except Lagos. He said they were apprehended in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna, and Zamfara during the operation that was sanctioned by President Buhari. The AGF promised that they would be prosecuted once the strike by court workers was called off.

However, Malami has failed to provide an update on the prosecution till date. Even when human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), who wrote a Freedom of Information request seeking an update on the case, the AGF’s office still failed to provide an update.

When contacted on Thursday, the AGF’s Spokesman, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said the identities of the suspects would be revealed in court.

“One of the steps associated with the process of prosecution is the arraignment of suspects in court. It is, therefore, logical that identities of such suspects will naturally be made known when their pleas are taken in court. Their identities will be made known at that point,” Gwandu said.

Meanwhile, Falana asked the Federal Government to stop deceiving Nigerians.

The senior advocate said it was unfortunate that the Federal Government which had a penchant for parading robbery suspects and Internet fraudsters, was still shielding terror financiers from prosecution.

“The AGF said last year that they had discovered 400 terror financiers. Now Lai Mohammed says they uncovered 96 in the same year. Is the figure 400, 96 or 496? They should stop deceiving Nigerians.”

He said it was curious that eight months since judiciary workers called off their strike, Malami had refused to arraign the terror sponsors.

“The AGF said the strike embarked on by court workers delayed the prosecution of the terror sponsors. The strike was called off over eight months ago. What is their excuse now,” Falana asked. 

PUNCH

Posted 04/02/2022 09:00:18 AM

 

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