AGAIN: Fear Grips As US Pledge To Expose Boko Haram Sponsors, Gives Reasons
Information reaching Ibom Focus that US Pledge To Expose Boko Haram Sponsors
After 12 years of insurrection by Boko Haram and its affiliates on its territory, Nigeria has the chance to turn the tide against the masterminds of Islamic terrorism. Promisingly, the offer is coming from the United States, a global superpower that has a pedigree in fighting the jihadists. According to Mary Leonard, the US ambassador to Nigeria, America is ready to partner with terror-ravaged Nigeria by releasing the list of those sponsoring the terror attacks on Africa’s most populous country. Nigeria should embrace the offer primarily because if the sponsors’ identities become public knowledge, they will have no hiding place again.
Save for its notable leaders; Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed by security agents in the early days of the insurgency, and Abubakar Shekau, killed by its rival, ISWAP, in June, Nigerians have been at a loss on the identities of the sponsors of the long-running Boko Haram rampage. Instead, speculation and rumours abound on the possible backers of jihadism.
This passivity in the face of terrorism has been deadly. It might change soon; or might not. The optimism surrounding this rests on whether the Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime would accept the intelligence from the Americans. Linking the offer to the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, Leonard said, “I have had at least three conversations in the last two months on this subject.” That is reassuring, but nothing is straightforward with Nigeria’s duplicitous political leadership.
That means the Boko Haram sponsors could also remain elusive to Nigerians if the antecedents of the regime are anything to go by. In 2020, the United Arab Emirates authorities convicted six Nigerian bureaux de change operators for sponsoring Boko Haram terror operations. Surajo Muhammad, Saleh Adamu (both life); Ibrahim Alhassan, AbdurRahman Musa, Bashir Yusuf and Muhammad Isa (10 years each) were all jailed for funding terror activities in Nigeria. The UAE government had arrested them in 2017 after investigations showed they were involved in transferring $782,000 from Dubai to Nigeria between 2015 and 2016 to finance Boko Haram. That was an eye-opener. In the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, it was a landmark.
US Pledge To Expose Boko Haram Sponsors
Instead of Nigeria pressing home the advantage by intensifying intelligence, investigation, and identification of terror sponsors, the Buhari regime stuck by its unwritten policy of non-prosecution of terror-related crimes. And so, since the sentencing in the UAE, Nigeria has done nothing concrete in that direction on its own patch. It beggars belief. Early in 2021, the Buhari regime raised hopes, saying it had made many arrests. It followed up in May, stating that 400 suspects who had been financing Boko Haram would be prosecuted. Additionally, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation stated that 800 Boko Haram suspects would face prosecution. More than four months later, nothing of such happened. The initial alibi was that judiciary workers embarked on a strike. That is not tenable anymore. All this shows the government’s bizarre pretence about exposing the sponsors of Islamism.
With hindsight, Nigeria, which is the third most terrorised country in the world after Afghanistan and Iraq per the Global Terrorism Index, is not showing mettle and might continue to endure the onslaught of the hardened terrorists for years to come. This contrasts with the resolute, concerted approach of the US to terrorism. Nigeria ought to adopt such. Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington that claimed 2,977 lives, the US authorities linked the atrocities to Osama bin Laden, then the head of al-Qaeda terror organisation. Immediately, the US went after him, his accomplices, and financiers, launching a global ‘war on terror’ and multiple manhunts. Eventually, bin Laden was traced to his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was eliminated in May 2011. Even before he was killed, al-Qaeda had lost some of its infernal capability to commit large-scale atrocities.
By deploying a similar tactic, Nigeria has a fighting chance to diminish Boko Haram’s evil reach in the country. For now, the Islamic extremists are still in ascendancy, despite the government’s perpetual denials. The bloodletting has led to 350,000 deaths (most of them children) in the past 12 years, according to a June 2021 estimate by the UNDP. At a time, the jihadists controlled 27 LGAs in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in the North-East. Audaciously, they abducted 276 schoolgirls in April 2014 at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State. Seven years after, 112 of those girls remain in captivity. The sect masterminded a similar raid at the Government Girls Science and Technical School, Dapchi, in Yobe State in February 2018. Leah Sharibu, for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, is the only abductee still in Boko Haram’s den among those kidnapped. It is distressing that at the very top of its political ladder, Nigeria plays abominable politics with Islamic terrorism, abnegating solutions that have helped to successfully decrease terrorism significantly elsewhere.
To help Nigeria, the US government should put its Nigerian counterpart on the spot if it does not want to publicise the names of the terror sponsors. This is what the UAE did since Nigeria was playing games. After releasing their names, these sponsors could be tried in the US, just like the UAE has done. Besides, the United Kingdom prosecuted James Ibori for money laundering on behalf of Nigeria in London, successfully convicting him of stealing Delta State funds as governor. The US has also put Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas on trial for criminal conspiracy to launder money.
The Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended) expressly prohibits the funding of terrorism. Buhari should instruct the banking authorities to strictly implement terrorist financing laws and regulations.
US Pledge To Expose Boko Haram Sponsors