By Onyebuchi Sampson
A constitutional lawyer, Dr. Monday Ubani, has called on the Federal Government to prosecute identified companies and individuals sponsoring Boko Haram and other terrorists in the country.
The call followed recent announcement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the Federal Government has uncovered 96 companies and individuals sponsoring Boko Haram and other terrorists in the country.
Mohammed, at a press briefing in Abuja, said the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has compiled a list of 96 financiers of terrorism, as well as 424 associates and supporters of the financiers.
He stressed that the NFIU had also unmasked 123 companies and 33 bureaux de change linked with terrorism in the country.
However, Mohammed did not disclose the names of the terrorism sponsors or companies linked with terrorism.
“For its part, the analysis by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, 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 minister said.
Mohammed further confirmed that the NFIU analysis has resulted in the arrest of 45 suspects who will soon face prosecution and seizure of assets.
He disclosed that the NFIU has compiled intelligence reports on cases of corruption, including tax evasion and money laundering.
“Also, from its analysis of tax evasion and tax avoidance linked to corruption, NFIU has identified N3,909,707,678,112.43 in VAT and N3,737,918,335,785.82 in Withholding Tax due to the government.
“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.
“On terrorism financing, NFIU had intelligence exchanges on Boko Haram, ISWAP, banditry, kidnapping and others with 19 countries.
“During the same period, 2020-2021, the organization returned fraudulently-obtained funds totalling US$103,722,102.83, 3,000 Pound Sterling; 7,695 Singapore dollars and 1,091 Euros to 11 countries of victims who came into the country,” he said.
But, Ubani, the current Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), said those identified should prosecuted.
He noted that Nigerians have heard about this issue of naming those, who are behind issue of insurgency, hence it is no longer a new announcement.
He said: “We have been hearing about it. We want to know who are those behind it and the practical steps the Federal Government is taking in terms of prosecution. because if they were alleged to have committed a crime by sponsoring people, who are causing menace in the country, the next thing one should expect the government to do, is to take them to court and prosecute them.”
According to the former second President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the law is there and very clear about those supporting terrorism, especially in terms of funding.
Ubani said, in September 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) released the names of six Nigerian financiers of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
He said the terror sponsors named by the UAE are Abdurrahaman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad.
“So, this issue of everyday announcement is not right. We have not seen measures that are been taken against them, and it is not helping the situation.
“These terrorists have caused a lot of havoc in terms of destruction of your economy by creating an idea that Nigeria is not a save country in the mind of investors.
“We could have concentrated the money. we are spending on fighting insurgency to developing our basic infrastructure. It is a great loss for the nation. We need to condemn what is condemnable and then see how we can tackle it from the root to eliminate and liberate terrorism. Nigeria is clearly under siege. So, I think that amnesty to terrorist who have not shown any visible mean of evidence of repentant is not a good policy at this time,” he added.