The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, said on Friday, that ongoing investigations have revealed many highly placed Nigerians and businessmen involved in financing terrorism.
Mr Malami, who doubles as the Minister of Justice, said the ‘strongly’ suspected financiers were already being profiled for prosecution.
The minister, who disclosed this while fielding questions from State House reporters in Abuja, said investigations revealing the activities of the suspected terrorism financiers were triggered by a recent conviction of some Nigerians in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) for funding Boko Haram.
This is coming amid heightened attacks by Boko Haram, non-state actors and other perpetrators of violent crimes in different parts of the country.
Daily Trust earlier in November 2020 reported how an appellate court in Abu Dhabi, UAE, affirmed the conviction of six Nigerians funding the dreaded terrorist group.
The newspaper also reported in April that dozens of persons had been arrested by security agencies in an ongoing nationwide crackdown on the suspected financiers and collaborations.
‘Wider investigations after UAE case’
Confirming the reports on Friday, Mr Malami said the Nigerian government embarked on “a wider and far-reaching investigations” into terrorism financing after the conviction of Boko Haram financiers in UAE.
He said, “I’m happy to report that arriving from the wider coverage investigation that has been conducted in Nigeria, a number of people, both institutional and otherwise, were found to be culpable.
“I mean reasonable grounds for suspicion of terrorism financing have been established, or perhaps has been proven to be in existence in respect of the transactions of certain high-profile individuals and businessmen across the country.”
According to him, “the investigations are ongoing but have reached an advanced stage”.
He added that the high-profile persons and businessmen found to be culpable are being profiled for prosecution.
“I’m happy to report that investigation has been ongoing for long, and it has reached an advanced stage. Arriving from the investigation, there exists, certainly, reasonable grounds for suspicion that a lot of Nigerians, high-profile, institutional and otherwise, are involved in terrorism financing and they are being profiled for prosecution.
“In essence, it is indeed true that the government is prosecuting and it’s indeed initiating processes of prosecuting those high-profile individuals that are found to be financing terrorism. It is indeed true.”
‘Number of suspects not yet available’
Asked to give the number of persons already arrested for the crime, Mr Malami said the actual number could not be ascertained until investigations were concluded.
But the minister confirmed that “a large number” of suspects were involved.
“As to the number, investigation is ongoing and it has to be conclusive before one can arrive at a certain number. But one thing I can tell you is it’s a large number and they are being profiled for prosecution.
“It is indeed a large number, and I’m not in a position to give you its precision as at now because the profiling and investigation are ongoing,” he said.
Mr Malami also warned that no one involved in the crime would be spared.
“The message is clear: nobody is going to be spared, no stone will be left unturned. We shall certainly and aggressively pursue those people that are involved in terrorist financing as far as the Nigerian State is concerned,” he said.
Mr Malami’s disclosure comes amid an increasing wave of attacks by Boko Haram in the North-east which has been the epicentre of the deadly activities of the dreaded terrorist groups for about 10 years.
There are recent reports that the group has extended its operations to the North-central part of Nigeria, which is still grappling with high incidence of mass kidnappings and killings by armed herders.
In April, Niger State government said Boko Haram had hoisted its flags in Kaure and Shiroro local government areas of the state.
The North-central state is about 140km to the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria’s seat of power.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who confirmed this on Monday, said the terrorists have displaced over 3,000 residents of the affected communities.
Many believe that the bandits currently terrorising many states in the North-west through mass kidnapping are affiliated or breakaway members of the terrorist group and bandits displaced from war-torn nations in Africa.