Terrorism funders | The Nation Nigeria


Editorial

When the new Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, promised recently: “I believe that before the rains come you will have witnessed a downward trend in the violence across the country,” little did the average citizen know that the presidency had in its possession a breaking news to announce. Shehu Garba’s statement: “There are a number of people who are currently under arrest, bureaux de change are facilitating money to terrorists. We have already concluded with the UAE on Nigerians who are transferring money to Boko Haram terrorists and this also happens domestically…I tell you that by the time we conclude this investigation, the shocking details will surprise many Nigerians”, constitutes a significant national news.

Shocked and excited are Nigerians likely to be about the news from the presidency and the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) that the same pool of people funding Boko Haram are also fuelling banditry and kidnapping in the country. Although it is premature to jump in the air about the end news, it is, however, salutary once the government acts on it immediately.

The announcement from the presidency is encouraging, as belated as it might seem to victims of terrorism and kidnapping. Citizens’ demand for such intelligence is as old as the launch of Boko Haram terrorism. For example, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, shortly after the bombing of the UN building in Abuja in 2011, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to use all security and intelligence networks at his disposal to unmask the sponsors of the sect.

And ever since, the media has been emphasising the importance of intelligence in the anti-terror fight. And since six Nigerians were convicted in Abu Dhabi in 2018 for illegal remittance in 2017 of $782,000 from Dubai to Nigeria in support of the terrorist group, the call for hardnosed investigation into internal and international sources of funds for terrorism became more strident.

It is, therefore, significant that the Federal Government has in 2021 successfully followed up on the signal from the UAE trial that sent two Nigerians to life imprisonment, and four to 10 years in jail for illegal remittances to Boko Haram.

But there are concerns about this important revelation from the presidency that the government ought to pay immediate attention to. How wise is the release of partial information about a very sensitive national threat at a time that investigation is still in progress, especially when no specific names are available to the public? Though the news that those behind Boko Haram are also behind bandits and kidnappers, and perhaps, herdsmen’s violence against farmers may not be particularly strange, citizens are still likely to wonder why the presidency would release such shocking news without identifying any of the people under arrest. With the most important detail about the ongoing investigation — identities of citizens in conspiracy with terrorists, bandits, and kidnappers — still under wraps,  it is crucial for the government to complete the investigation before the news becomes a fertile source of distractions, speculations, and rumour mongering.

The trauma created by Boko Haram in the past 11 years and tragedy caused for thousands of victims of banditry, kidnapping, and herders’ violence against farmers must be too harrowing for hitherto hidden supporters of agents of destabilization of the country to remain in the dark any day longer. Similarly, the addition of kidnapping and banditry to the list of challenges being funded by invisible agents cannot but continue to worry citizens, should the important investigation become stretched inordinately.

While congratulating the intelligence services for finding a major missing link in the growth of various forms of terrorism in the country, we urge the Federal Government to complete the ongoing investigation into funding of terrorism and other forms of crim inality, to enable it prosecute such enemies of the nation.


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