Some methods adopted by foreign sponsors of Boko Haram to launder money to the terrorist group have been uncovered, LEADERSHIP can authoritatively report.
This development is coming on the heels of revelations by Major-General Garba Wahab, the general officer commanding (GOC), 1 Mechanised Division, Nigerian Army, that officers of the division have arrested an orange seller in Kaduna who allegedly spied for the group: his bank account had witnessed transactions of over N600million in just three months.
Initially, foreign groups, through agents in Nigeria, sent money through the normal banking channels and these funds can come classified as aid to support religion, humanitarian causes and any other excuse not frowned at by the laws of the land.
But with searchlights beamed on money transfers, and considering that one cannot just stroll into a foreign airport with a large cache of money, funds abroad where "turned" into goods which are sent here and re-converted into cash bigger than the original.
A source who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter confided that "because of the risk involved with banks where large movements of cash can be noticed, monitored and reported to relevant bodies, the foreign sponsorship is in handsets and accessories and torchlights here".
The source, who said that the shipped goods are mainly cheap and from countries like Dubai and China, explained that what the groups are after is the high and fast turnover from the sales.
The source said, "Now, look at the number of people selling these things... as decoys. And you will know how much they remit to where they are supposed to remit to".
Musa Abdullahi, a resident of Potiskum in Yobe State, says he knows some youths who suddenly became rich when they started this business. He gave an instance of a boy who was killed by some terrorists in front of his family house.
Abdullahi said it was later found out that the group "opened the shop for the boy with the understanding that he would be getting supplies while he made an agreed remittance, but the boy later wanted to walk out and he was killed". Abdullahi said the boy became relatively rich within three months, "which is not normal, considering the type of business and its little profit margin".
According to investigations, the business, to the decoys, is lucrative and risks associated generally with highly profitable businesses are lacking.
A businessman in Kano (name and shop number withheld) disclosed to our reporters how he was recruited and how profitable the business is: "My shop was destroyed in the Farm Centre attack of 20th January, last year, by the Boko Haram and thus I lost everything," said the man.
With nobody to come to his aid and family demands weighing him down, what to him was "succour by providence" came to him in the form of a businessman based in Abuja.
"Without capital," he continued, "the Good Samaritan supplies me with these GSM accessories, rechargeable torchlights, table lamps, etc, which I sell."
On how he balances the supplier, he reveals that the supplier does not collect the proceeds but that he (the seller) keeps 20 per cent of it while he gives 80 per cent to somebody else "who disturbs me with calls if on the agreed date he does not see alert from his bankers".
When the Emir Kano, His Royal Highness Alhaji Ado Bayero, was attacked on January 19, this year, a wheelbarrow pusher who ostensibly was selling these products called "kayan loki" barricaded the road and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) as a signal for the gunmen to start shooting.
In many of their attacks, witnesses have seen how guns and ammunition were taken out of wheelbarrows and placed at strategic locations by the gunmen. Even though these products are sold by wheelbarrow pushers, some do so in kiosks.
Some people who have taken pains to study Boko Haram said that such businesses were key in oiling their day-to-day activities and upkeep of members while they attacked banks when they needed fast, big cash.
At times, according to the observers, moneys from sales remitted to individuals are withdrawn and remitted to various cells of the group in various towns.
Recently, Kabiru Sokoto, a Boko Haram kingpin who is facing charges at an Abuja high court, confessed to receiving, as his share, N500, 000 from a N40m fund sent to his group, which even caused a split among the members.
Senate approves emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday unanimously approved President Goodluck Jonathan's declaration of a state of emergency in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe with a caveat that federal troops deployed to the affected states be issued a proper code of conduct to avoid innocent civilian population getting caught in the middle of the conflict.
Rising from a closed-door executive session which lasted over an hour, Senate president David Mark declared that the military option was not the final solution to end the insurgency which has pitted the federal government with Islamist extremists in many parts of northern Nigeria. Mark proposed a "carrot and stick policy" to ensure that the insurgency is brought to a logical conclusion as quickly as possible.
Mark had earlier read at plenary a letter from Jonathan seeking legislative approval for the state of emergency earlier declared in the three states.
100 out of 109 senators attended the closed-door executive session. Section 305 (2) and (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that such proclamation (emergency rule) by the president and commander-in-chief must be endorsed by two-thirds majority of the Senate, which translates to 72 of the 109 members of the senators in plenary. Mark said the nine senators who were absent were out on "essential duties".
Again, Mark emphasised that all democratic structures in the affected states must be left in place and allowed to operate fully and actively during the period of emergency rule. The Senate president stated that elected state officials must be involved in all efforts by the federal government to end the insurgency.
Mark said: "In the closed session, we extensively discussed some of the issues we think are very important to this proclamation of state of emergency. We want to emphasis emphatically that all democratic structures must be left in place and they must be allowed to operate fully and actively and they must also be involved in all the efforts that the federal government is putting up to bring this ugly situation to an end. We would also like to emphasise that the armed forces are issued a proper code of conduct where they should be humane and benevolent and make sure that all citizens are treated with utmost respect so that they do not lose their respect as human beings.
Reps approves amended proclamation of emergency rule
Having received the copies of the gazetted proclamation of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states from President Jonathan, the House of Representatives yesterday considered, approved and adopted the details of the proclamation with amendments.
The changes made to the document by the lawmakers yesterday after a 4-hour closed-door session include the compensation of victims of terrorist attacks in the states on or before declaration of the state of emergency.
Presiding over the session, speaker of the House Hon Aminu Tambuwal said the House also resolved to specify that the funding of the military intervention would be approved by the National Assembly.
The provision was amended to state that utilisation of the funds of any state or local government in the emergency area is "subject to the approval of the National Assembly".
They also limited the powers of the president to administration of security matters in the affected states.
Under regulations of the Emergency Powers Act as approved by the lawmakers, the lawmakers removed the initial provision in clauses 1, 2 and 3 which allocates control of general administration of the affected areas to the president, leaving it to now state that "a state governor in an emergency area shall continue with the general functions of administering the emergency area". The same amendment also extended to local governments.
Similarly, the lawmakers, in a bid to check federal interference in state matters, amended clause 2 of the proclamation to now state that the president may give directions to a state governor or local government chairman through the governor or through his delegate or a duly authorised person with respect to the administration of the emergency area " for matters of public peace and security only".
The lawmakers reduced the powers of the president's administration in the states to only make orders as appear to him to be necessary or expedient "for the purpose of maintaining and securing peace, public order and public safety in the emergency area".
The clause for compensation of victims was not included in the copy forwarded by the president but was introduced afresh to the Act. It seeks, among other things, payment, documentation, return, rehabilitation, remuneration and settlement of persons affected by the emergency rule order and trial of offenders of the order.
"Provision 4 is for the payment of compensation to victims who have been affected on or before the emergency declaration," Tambuwal stated, while stressing that the seven days stipulated for approval of the gazetted proclamation had not elapsed
Afterwards, the speaker commended and cautioned members of the military who are on the mission to implement the declaration in the state, saying, "The House is with them in this struggle. We will provide all requirements to make it successful. Try to be as mindful of the right of those who are not involved in the wanton destruction of lives and property. Try to protect them".
Aware that the Senate passed a different version from theirs, a conference committee headed by Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa (PDP, Taraba) was set up to harmonise the inputs of both chambers and report back to the House today.
Other members of the committee are Ali Ahmed, Aminu Shagari, Nkoyo Toyo, Nat Agunbiade and Ben Okonkwo.
Jonathan orders release of Boko Haram detainees
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Defence Headquarters to set free all suspected Boko Haram members in their custody to accelerate the ongoing dialogue with the sect members despite the military operation.
Checks reveal that since the declaration of the state of emergency in the three states notorious as the haven of the sect members, there has been pressure on the presidency to let go those that had been detained in various military formations, especially women and the children.
"Some are even calling on the government to stop all the ongoing prosecution of all the arrested insurgents with a view to demonstrating genuineness of the president, but the delay has been as a result of the consequences of such a quest. The president has directed the military to release everyone detained as a way to douse tension in the north and to bring to an end the ongoing war against the insurgents," the presidency said.
The development led the president to direct the chief of defence staff, Admiral Ola Saa'ad Ibrahim, to set free all the Boko Haram detainees. Thus, yesterday in a statement issued and signed by the director of information of the Defence Headquarters, the CDS disclosed that he had got the directive and ordered the process for their release.
"Consequent upon the directives of the president, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, the Defence Headquarters will be releasing from detention a number of persons being held in connection with terrorist activities.
"The move is in furtherance of the federal government's position in response to requests by the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Reconciliation. The measure which is in line with presidential magnanimity to enhance peace efforts in the country will result in freedom for suspects including all women under custody," the statement read.
But the process of releasing them might not be immediate for technical reasons, as it would involve some governors of the affected areas who would play prominent roles in the ongoing reconciliation. "The details of the directives and those to benefit from this gesture have been communicated to field units and the Joint Task Force. The beneficiaries will be released to the state governors who will be involved in further rehabilitation before these suspects are released to their respective community leaders/relations."