Terrorism financiers and national security


By Rekpene Bassey

In a critical move, the Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a decisive assault on terrorism by publicly unveiling the identities of 15 entities, including six Bureau De Change operators and various firms, implicated in funding terrorism and insurgency within the country.

This ground-breaking revelation, disclosed on March 18, 2024, by the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), has sort of sent angst across the nation, shedding light on the intricate web of terrorism financing networks.

Among those exposed is Tukur Mamu, a prominent publisher based in Kaduna, whose involvement in funnelling funds toward terrorism has been brought to the limelight.

The NFIU’s terse security report paints a stark picture, linking some of these entities to heinous acts of terror, including the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, the Saint Francis Church assault in Owo, Ondo State, and the audacious Kuje correctional centre break-in of 2022 within short intervals.

President Bola Tinubu’s resolute stance against terrorism and insurgency deserves commendation. His unwavering determination to confront this scourge head-on has propelled the government to take unprecedented action.

The release of this list marks a significant departure from previous administrations’ reluctance to tackle terrorism financing directly, underscoring Tinubu’s leadership and courage in the face of adversity.

Until now, rhetoric has often overshadowed tangible action, creating an impression of mere speculation regarding the shadowy figures undermining the nation’s security. However, this decisive move by the federal government signals a paradigm shift, reaffirming its commitment to rooting out terrorism at its core.

The NFIU’s report serves as a wake-up call, highlighting the pervasive threat posed by terrorism and the urgent need for collective action. Nigeria stands at a critical juncture, where bold initiatives like this are essential in safeguarding its future against the menace of terrorism and insurgency.

The report unveiled by the NFIU leaves no room for ambiguity. It starkly exposes the depth of involvement of these individuals in terrorism, portraying them not merely as financiers but as deeply entrenched collaborators with radicalised elements within some of the most notorious terrorist organizations worldwide.

Their connections could run quite deep, with clandestine cells intricately woven within the fabric of both Nigeria and the volatile Islamic Maghreb and Sahel regions.

These financiers, operating in the shadows, have forged sinister alliances with the likes of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Vanguard for the Protection of Islam in Black Africa (ANSARU).

These groups, known for their ruthless tactics and unwavering commitment to their extremist ideologies, pose an imminent threat not only to Nigeria but to global security as well. Their clandestine nefarious ambitions know no bounds, as they are willing to go to any lengths, including orchestrating the overthrow of governments, to achieve their heinous goals.

The mere act of making these names public is insufficient. The government must embark on a comprehensive endeavour to unmask its extensive network of collaborators, decipher their intricate modus operandi, and root out their localized cells.

This demands decisive action, executed within the parameters of the law, to effectively neutralize the threat posed by these clandestine operatives and safeguard the nation against the looming spectre of terrorism, insurgency, and threat to national security.

Furthermore, the revelation of these individuals’ deep involvement in terrorism underscores the urgent need for concerted efforts to counteract their ignoble activities. The intricate web of connections they maintain, both domestically and internationally, represents a complex challenge that requires a multifaceted approach to address effectively.

To combat this threat, the government must not only intensify its intelligence-gathering capabilities but also enhance cooperation with international partners to disrupt the flow of funds and dismantle the networks that sustain these terrorist organisations.

Another perspective that should be critically considered is the possible nexus between the activities of these financiers of terrorism and banditry given their close tie of consanguinity.

Additionally, robust legislative measures should be enacted to prosecute and punish those found complicit in financing terrorism, thereby depriving them of the proceeds of crime and other resources necessary to perpetrate violence and instability.

Moreover, efforts to counter radicalization and promote social cohesion are equally crucial in addressing the root causes that fuel terrorism. By investing in education, economic development, and community empowerment, the government can mitigate the vulnerabilities exploited by extremist groups to recruit new members and perpetrate their violent agenda.

In conclusion, the revelation by the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) serves as a sobering reminder of the pervasive threat posed by terrorism and the imperative of proactive measures to confront it.

By exposing the financiers and collaborators behind these terrorist organisations, Nigeria has taken a critical step towards safeguarding its national security and protecting its citizens from harm.

However, sustained and coordinated action, both domestically and internationally, is essential to effectively dismantle these networks and ensure a safer and more secure future for all.

Rekpene Bassey is the President of the African Council on Narcotics (ACON), a Drug Prevention and Security Specialist

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