As part of measures to block all sources of funding to terrorists, the federal government has concluded plans to separate the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
LEADERSHIP gathered authoritatively that President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), to commence the processes of amending existing laws to make the NFIU an independent organ.
With this development, NFIU will be akin to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the United States that is empowered to investigate and block all funding sources for terrorist groups across the world.
A dependable security source told LEADERSHIP that the move was aimed at crippling Boko Haram ahead of the June deadline promised by Jonathan for stemming the activities of the terrorist group in the country.
The source, who preferred not to be mentioned in print, hinted that security reports have shown that recent calls for dialogue between government and the terror group was a design to enable the group reorganise its depleting financial fortune.
The report, it was gathered, also revealed that Boko Haram is currently financially handicapped following the blockage of its foreign sources of funding by FATF and may have resolved to look inward for funding from local politicians.
“This is why the NFIU needs to be strengthened so as to keep record of every financial contribution or donation to Boko Haram by those who find the group handy as an opposition tool against the Jonathan’s government,’’ the source said. “What we are doing is in line with world best practices. The US took maximum advantage of FATF to track down all sources of funding to Al-Qaeda, from North Africa and the Middle East, after the bombing of the World Trade Centre. That was how the US was able to block trans border funding to Osama bin Laden before he was killed. So our plan is not different.”
Shedding more light on the development, the source said: “It was the same agency that the US used to repatriate the Lebanese car dealer from Benin Republic to the US for trial over allegation of funding terrorism. So, both FATF and NFIU are collaborating to monitor all those suspected to be funding Boko Haram.
“The removal of NFIU from the control of EFCC is to make it autonomous and independent as much as possible. When this is done, the unit would be able to make public disclosure of both local and international sources of funding for Boko Haram.
“It is a known fact that you need money to make bombs. In other words, for every terrorist or suicide bombing there must be somebody who provides the funding. When Boko Haram started, there were local financiers but when the government turned the heat on them, foreign sources of funding began to come in from North Africa. But right now, through the assistance of the US FATF, we are closing in on them.
“This is the simple reason why some prominent politicians who are sympathetic to Boko Haram are calling on the government to dialogue with the sect. But if you take a critical look at their commentaries you will know that their calls are just to get money from the government so as to reorganise themselves against the state. This explains why they have refused to come out from their hiding to dialogue with the government. So their lack of visibility has clearly sent wrong signals that they were not ready to dialogue.”
We are combat-ready to tackle terrorism – COAS
Meanwhile, the chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika, has said that the army is ever ready to combat any form of terrorism in the country.
Ihejirika stated this at the weekend during the graduation of another round of 498 trained counter-terrorists in Kachia in Kachia local government area of Kaduna State.
The army chief told the graduands that “from the four weeks’ intensive training on counter-terrorism, the graduands are sufficiently transformed and equipped with the necessary skills needed to tackle the various security challenges that may confront them in the field”.
He told them to expect such challenges when they are deployed to various parts of the nation for special operations.
Represented at the ceremony by the commander, Guards Brigade, Brigadier General Emmanuel Atewe, the army chief charged the special forces to exhibit a high sense of professionalism and dedication in the conduct of the assignments while adhering strictly to the rules of engagement at all times.
He added that such professional conduct must be tailored towards addressing the security situation in the country and alleviating the sufferings of innocent law-abiding citizens whenever the terrorists strike.
Earlier in his remarks, the director of the Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Centre, Brigadier General Tijjani Kanbap Golau, said that of the participants made up of 298 soldiers, 200 defenders were taken through a four-week rigorous training in various aspects of basic special forces training which covers fighting in built-up areas, VIP protection search-and-rescue operations, tactical combat shooting, weapon handling, unarmed combat tactics, physical fitness, amongst other military training.
Brigadier General Golau said he was confident the participants would give good account of themselves when properly deployed and equipped for the task ahead.
The commandant-general of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Olu Abolurin, represented by the deputy commandant-general (administration), Engineer Suleiman Akanbi Bello, said the synergy and cooperation amongst security agencies strengthened by such joint training is needed in containing the security situation in the country.