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Controversy trails leaked list of terrorists’ financiers

  • NFIU disowns memo

  • 4 of 6 indicted BDCs not registered with CAC

  • Case already in court – Govt officials

 

There is controversy around the list of terror financiers purportedly leaked by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and reported on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

Daily Trust reports that for nearly fifteen years, the federal government, right from the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, his successor, Muhammadu Buhari, and recently that of Bola Tinubu, have promised to expose terror financiers in the country with a view to unravelling the mystery surrounding the menace.

Thousands of people have been killed since 2009 when the Boko Haram crisis erupted; and the orgy of violence escalated with the onset of banditry in the North West and parts of North Central, as well as sundry crimes manifesting in different forms in other parts of the country.

A report by the Punch newspaper on Wednesday, said the federal government had uncovered the identity of 15 entities, including nine individuals and six Bureaus De Change allegedly involved in terrorism financing.

It said details of the development were revealed by the NFIU, in an email sent on Tuesday night, entitled “Designation of Individuals and Entities for March 18, 2024.”

It indicated that the document revealed that the Nigeria Sanctions Committee met on March 18, 2024, where specific individuals and entities were recommended for sanction following their involvement in terrorism financing.

“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, with the approval of the President, has thereupon designated the following individuals and entities to be listed on the Nigeria Sanctions List,” the document read in part.

Even though the first story clearly mentioned the Kaduna-based publisher, Tukur Mamu, who is currently being tried by the federal government for allegedly aiding the terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train in March 2022, an updated story, which has gone viral on multiple platforms, listed other names and entities.

These include:  Yusuf Ghazali, Muhammad Sani, Abubakar Muhammad, Sallamudeen Hassan, Adamu Ishak, Hassana-Oyiza Isah, Abdulkareem Musa, and Umar Abdullahi.

It also listed six BDCs and firms including the West and East Africa General Trading Company Limited, Settings Bureau De Change Limited, G. Side General Enterprises, Desert Exchange Ventures Limited, Eagle Square General Trading Company Limited and Alfa Exchange BDC.

Apart from Mamu, all the remaining names mentioned are not known, and efforts to unravel their identities did not yield any result as of press time.

NFIU disowns memo

Contacted yesterday to give more insight on the development, the Head of Public Affairs, NFIU, Abubakar Abba Ibrahim, said the organisation did not issue any statement.

Another senior official in the agency, Sani Tukur, said on the media WhatsApp platform of the agency, “There was no statement from our office sir. I have asked around and no one seems to know how they got it. I believe it is being investigated.”

Also contacted to know when the trial of the suspects will commence, a senior official in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, said they read the story.

“We saw nothing to expand on it because it is not new,” the source said.

The source further disclosed that the BDC operators and Tukur Mamu have been in court since their indictment in Dubai and arrest in Egypt, respectively.

Arrests started since 2020

Daily Trust had reported in April 2021, that dozens of persons have been arrested by security agents in an on-going nationwide crackdown on suspected financiers and collaborators of Boko Haram and other criminal groups in Nigeria.

Five months earlier, this newspaper had exclusively reported the jailing of six Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over allegations of terrorism financing.

It was gathered that the closely-guarded operation was being coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), NFIU and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

As part of the operation, billions of naira traced to businesses belonging to persons of interest had been blocked in banks in a series of “post no debit” letters sent out to banks by the CBN and NFIU. The apex bank also obtained court orders directing freezing of dozens of accounts flagged for suspicious transactions.

A security source familiar with the operation confided in Daily Trust at the time that the operation started in 2020 with massive gathering and analysis of financial intelligence and drawing uplink analysis, leading to initial marking of some 60 businesses and individuals.

The source said an initial list of 957 suspects comprising bureau de change operators, gold miners and sellers, and other businessmen, was being acted upon.

Before the crackdown was relaxed, about 400 persons were arrested in a series of arrests in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara.

Recent leaked findings

In the latest leaked document, it was stated that Mamu “Participated in the financing of terrorism by receiving and delivering ransom payments over the sum of $200,000 US in support of ISWAP terrorists for the release of hostages of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack.”

The document said one of the individuals is “The suspected attacker of the St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State on June 5, 2022 and the Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja on July 5, 2022.”

Another was described as “A member of the terrorist group, Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladissudam, the group is associated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

“The subject was trained and served under Muktar Belmokhtar, aka One Eyed Out, led Al-Murabitoun Katibat of AQIM in Algeria and Mali.”

The NFIU allegedly said the individual “Specialises in designing terrorist clandestine communication code and he is also an Improvised Explosive Device expert.

“The subject was also a gatekeeper to ANSARU leader, Mohammed Usman aka Khalid Al-Barnawi. Equally, he was a courier and travel guide to AQIM Katibat in the desert of Algeria and Mali. He is into carpentry. Subject fled Kuje Correctional Centre on July 5, 2022. He is currently at large.”

Another was identified as “A senior commander of the Islamic State of West Africa Province Okene.”

It said the individual “Came into limelight in 2012, as North Central wing of Boko Haram.

“The group is suspected of the attacks carried out around Federal Capital Territory and the South West Geographical Zone, including the June 5, 2022 attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.”

Another was described as “A financial courier to ISWAP Okene. She is responsible for the disbursement of funds to the widows/wives of the terrorist fighters of the group.”

According to the document, another of the individuals “In 2015, transferred N60 million to terrorism convicts”, and was said to have “Received a sum of N189 million between 2016 and 2018.”

The same person was said to “Own entities and business reported in the UAE court judgment as facilitating the transfer of terrorist funds from Dubai to Nigeria.”

Another individual was said to have “Received a total of N57 million from between 2014 and 2017.”

Another was said to have “Had a total inflow of N61.4 billion and a total outflow of N51.7 billion from his accounts.”

4 of 6 indicted BDCs not registered with CAC

Findings by Daily Trust revealed that four of the six bureaus de change allegedly named by the federal government as terrorism financiers are either not registered or have been delisted by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Out of the six BDCs, only two, namely Desert Exchange Ventures Limited and Settings Bureau De Change were seen as registered with CAC although their statuses are inactive.

Subsequently, no results were found for West and East Africa General Trading Company Limited, G. Side General Enterprises, Eagle Square General Trading Company Limited and Alfa Exchange BDC.

This means they were either delisted by the CAC or have not been registered at all.

Desert Exchange Ventures Limited is located at NO. 18, M. Y. C. House, Lawan Dambazau Road, Kano and was incorporated on May 7, 2015, while Settings Bureau De Change is located at NO.43 Ibrahim Taiwo Rd, Kano, and was Incorporated on April 9 2014.

 

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