Friday, March 22, 2024

Nigeria indicts 19 ‘terrorism financiers’

The Nigerian government has identified and sanctioned 19 terrorism financiers including six Bureau De Change (BDC) firms, a document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has shown.

The identities of the alleged terrorism funders were revealed in the document issued by the Nigeria Sanctions Committee (NSC), headed by the Attorney General of the Federation.

Those named as financiers of terrorism include Tukur Mamu, a Kaduna-based publisher, Abdulsamad Ohida, Mohammed Abdurrahaman (FNU), Fatima Ishaq, Yusuf Ghazali, Muhammad Sani, Abubakar Muhammad, Sallamudeen Hassan, Adamu Ishak, Hassana Isah, Abdulkareem Musa and Umar Abdullahi.

Six firms – West and East Africa General Trading Co. Ltd, Settings Bureau De Change Ltd, G. Side General Enterprises, Desert Exchange Ventures Limited, Eagle Square General Trading Co Ltd, and Alfa Exchange BDC – were also named.

The committee gave a brief background of some of the indicted persons and subsequently detailed their alleged involvement in terrorism financing.

How named individuals financed terrorism

Mr Mamu, the Kaduna-based publisher of Desert Herald newspaper, was a spokesman to Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric who has repeatedly called for negotiations with terrorists.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Mamu was arrested by Interpol in Cairo, Egypt, on 6 September 2022, while operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), raided his Kaduna residence and office. He is still being prosecuted.

The NSC said Mr Mamu “participated in the financing of terrorism by receiving and delivering ransom payments over the sum of $200,000 US dollars in support of ISWAP terrorists for the release of hostages of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack.”

The second person, Mr Ohida, according to the committee, was “a senior commander (Quaid) of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) Okene.”

He was described as the “suspected attacker of the St. Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State on 5th June 2022 and the Kuje Correctional Center, Abuja on 5th July 2022.”

List of the persons and entities indicted for terrorism financing. SOURCE: Nigeria Sanctions Committee (NSC)

Thirty-seven-year-old Mr Sani is a member of the Ansaru terror group, the committee stated, adding he was trained and served under Muktar Belmokhtar [aka One-Eyed], a notorious leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who was reportedly killed in 2016.

Mr Sani who was into carpentry, also allegedly specialises in designing terrorist clandestine communication codes and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). He was identified as one of the terrorists who escaped during the 2022 Kuje prison break.

The committee added that he is “a gatekeeper to ANSARU leader, Mohammed Usman aka Khalid Al-Bamawi. Equally, he was a courier and travel guide to AQIM Katibat in the desert of Algeria and Mali.”

Another indicted person simply identified as Abdurrahaman (FNU), was a senior commander of ISWAP in Okene, Kogi State, the committee disclosed.

ISWAP parted ways with Boko Haram in 2016 over doctrinal differences. It has since claimed responsibility for various attacks in some parts of the country, especially in the northeast and Lake Chad region.

Ms Ishaq, a resident of Unguwan Sarki in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State, was said to be a “financial courier to ISWAP Okene.”

The committee said she was “responsible for the disbursement of funds to the widows/wives of the terrorist fighters of the group.”

Ms Isah, the other woman among the indicted persons, is the wife of Abdulkareem Musa (AKA Abu Khalid/Abu Aiman), the committee revealed, adding “She receives money from ISWAP and then goes on to pay the wives of the ISWAP soldiers.”

Her husband, Mr Musa, is a top commander of the ISWAP cell in central and southern Nigeria. He “worked as the manager of Star bread bakery, owned by ISWAP and located opposite Abusito Mosque, Irubucheba area, Okene, Kogi State, before being arrested and sent to jail in 2011.”

In 2015, Kano-based Mr Ghazali allegedly transferred N20 million to Surajo Muhammad, one of the six Nigerians convicted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2020 for a similar offence.

That same year, he “transferred” N40 million to Ibrahim Alhassan, another convict, the report states.

“Abubakar Adamu Yellow who had calls and financial transactions with Alhaji Saidu Ahmed (the leader of the group) and direct financial transaction with two of the convicts (Surajo Abubakar Muhammad, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan) received a sum of N189 million from Yusuf Ghazali between 2016 and 2018,” the committee stated, noting Mr Ghazali owns entities and businesses reported in the UAE court judgment as facilitating the transfer of terrorist funds from Dubai to Nigeria.

Like Mr Ghazali, two other Kano-based residents, Messrs Sani and Muhammad, were accused of financing terrorism by engaging in financial transactions with the Nigerian-UAE convicts.

Borno-born Mr Hassan who lived in Lagos was also accused of the same offence.

The committee said he was a top ISWAP member and one of the founders of the ISWAP cell in the South-west geopolitical zone.

“He sources and coordinates their finances through cryptocurrency, dating and tax/covid19 palliative scams in the USA,” the committee stated.

Also, Mr Ishaq who was based in Kaduna was indicted as a logistics provider for ISWAP. The committee reported that he bought lands, and built and bought houses for ISWAP members in Jigawa and Kaduna states.

He was not alone. Mr Abdullahi, described as a Kano State resident and a top member of ISWAP from the Lake Chad region, was described as a “top logistics provider for the ISWAP.”

The committee stated that Mr Abdullahi was a grain merchant in Kano State and was “in charge of the ISWAP farm in Doma, Kebbi state.”

BDC operators indicted

According to the committee, West And East Africa General Trading Co. Ltd, in 2017, “transferred the sum of N153 million” to one Mustapha Adamu.

That same year, the firm transferred N50 million to Ali Yusuf, who was named as the brother to two of the Nigerians convicted in UAE — Ibrahim Alhassan and Bashir Yusuf.

A year before, the firm “transferred the sum of N160 million to Ambare Mohammed who is a major suspect in Maiduguri.”

Between 2014 and 2015, the committee reported that Settings Bureau De Change Ltd received N100 million from Mr Ghazali who had financial transactions with three UAE convicts — Surajo Muhammad, Ibrahim Alhassan and Bashir Yusuf.

“The connection of the entity to the mentioned suspect covers over 80% of the entity’s entire transactions within the reporting threshold,” the committee explained. “This made the entity a likely accomplice in the group’s activities.”

Detailing how G. Side General Enterprises made the list, the committee wrote: “The Director/Promoter Yusuf Ghazali transferred N20 Million to Surajo Abubakar Muhammad (who is the number one convict in UAE for Financing Terrorism in Nigeria) in 2015. Yusuf Ghazali, the Company’s Director/Promoter transferred N40 million to Ibrahim Ali Alhassan (who was convicted in UAE for financing terrorism in Nigeria) in 2015.

“Abubakar Adamu Yellow who had calls and financial transactions with Alhaji Saidu Ahmed (alleged leader of the group) and directed financial transactions with two of the convicts (Surajo Abukakar Muhammad and Ali Alhassan) received a sum of N189 Million from Yusuf Ghazali, the Company’s Director/Promoter between 2016 and 2018.”

The Desert Exchange Ventures Limited, in 2015, transferred N20 million to the convict Surajo Abubakar Muhammad, N146 million to Habibu Sani Maigida and N195 million to Rashab Nig Enterprises.

A year later, it transferred the N198 million to one Usaini Adamu.

For Eagle Square General Trading Co Ltd, the committee said the firm “transferred the sum of N165 million to Abubakar Adamu Yellow in 2018, N480 million to Usaini Adamu between 2017 and 2018 and N347 million to Bahafs Global Ventures within the same period.”

“Alfa Exchange BDC received N5 million from Yawale Muhammad Sani between 2013 and 2015,” the committee reported, adding the firm received N498 million from Yusuf Gazali.

“Alfa Exchange UAE was mentioned as being used as a repository of Boko Haram money for onward transfer to Nigeria,” the committee stated.

The sanctions

The NSC said it recommended the specific individuals and entities “for designation following their involvement with 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 NSC stated, rolling out sanctions against the indicted persons “in accordance with Section 54 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.”

It recommended that all funds, assets and any other economic resources belonging to the designated persons and entities be immediately frozen without prior notice.

The frozen assets or actions taken against the indicted persons and entities are to be reported to the NSC afterwards.

“Immediately file a Suspicious Transactions Report to the NFIU for further analysis on the financial activities of such an individual or entity; and report as a Suspicious Transactions Report to the NFIU, all cases of name matching in financial transactions prior to or after receipt of this list,” the committee stated.

The committee clarified that the sanctions affect “All funds or other assets that are owned or controlled by the designated persons and entities, and not only those that are tied to a particular act, plot, or threat of terrorism or terrorism financing.”

Assets and funds jointly owned or controlled [directly or indirectly] by the indicted persons and entities shall be frozen as well, the committee explained.

The sanction shall affect the “funds or other assets derived or generated from funds or other assets owned or controlled directly or indirectly by designated persons or entities.”

Funds or other assets of persons and entities acting on behalf of, or at the direction of designated persons or entities shall also be frozen, the committee clarified.

By Yakubu Mohammed, Premium Times 

Related story: Ex-Boko Haram fighters threaten return to arms in Nigeria

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