The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has begun investigating the finances of drug barons for possible links with the Boko Haram sect and other terror groups operating in northern Nigeria.
NDLEA’s Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, said that the agency was aware of the possibility of terrorist activities in the North being funded through drug deals, hence the ongoing investigation.
He said, “There is usually a link between drug money and terrorism. But for now in Nigeria, we have not had any case of drug money being channelled into terrorism. That is not to say that there is no possibility. There is the possibility and we are trying to track illicit funds that can be diverted into acts of terrorism.
“We are not necessarily investigating the drug trade that the terrorists might be engaged in, we are investigating the illicit movement of finances. When we get a breakthrough, the public will be properly informed. It is definitely one of our areas of interest in the investigation.”
Apart from terrorism being funded with the drug money, indications have also emerged that Boko Haram members, who have killed thousands of Nigerians, act under the influence of illicit drugs.
On Wednesday, while commemorating the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, said recent discoveries had shown that members of the Boko Haram sect act under the influence of hard drugs, adding that there was the need to cut off their drug supply.
Corroborating Shettima, the NDLEA spokesman said the possibility of the terrorists acting under the influence could not be ruled out, noting that the major illicit drug in the North-East was cannabis (Indian hemp), which is produced locally.
Ofoyeju said insurgency and the consequent emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states had made it even more difficult for the NDLEA to track down drug traffickers in the region.
He however noted that last year, 37.5kg of illicit drugs were seized and 35 people arrested in Borno; 175.7kg drugs seized and 36 people arrested in Yobe while 2529kg drugs were seized in Adamawa and 168 people were arrested.
A report published by the Director, Inter-University Centre for Terrorism Studies, USA, Yonah Alexander, in February, stated that Boko Haram and Ansaru, were being funded by drug cartels in Latin America.
The report entitled, “Terrorism in Northern Africa and the Sahel in 2012: Global Reach and Implications,” said the Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, had aligned with many other groups, including Boko Haram and Ansaru, in order to expand its sources of funding.
It stated that, “Primary sources of financing of their activities include kidnapping (in some cases, kidnapping is outsourced to criminals), piracy and illicit trafficking of drugs, human, vehicles and other contraband goods.
“Intelligence reports and arrests have confirmed that AQIM has established links with Latin cartels for ‘drugs-for-arms’ smuggling into Europe through terrorist-trafficking networks in the Sahel.”