By Michael Olugbode
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, has urged the federal government to build on the conviction of six Boko Haram sponsors by the United Arab Emirate (UAE) by setting up a multi-stakeholder team with trusted representatives to fish out more sponsors of the terrorist group.
A statement yesterday by the governor’s spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau, said Zulum commended the UAE for the conviction of six Nigerians for Boko Haram funding.
The statement said the governor was happy that for the first time in 11 years, headway was being made on tracking some alleged financiers of Boko Haram terrorism that has resulted in the death of thousands of citizens, displacement of millions as well as the destruction of private and public assets worth $9 billion in Nigeria.
According to media report, an Abu Dhabi court had upheld the conviction of some Nigerians for allegedly supplying almost N300 million to fund Boko Haram.
The State Security Court of the Federal Supreme Court had turned down the appeal by the six Nigerians convicted of terrorist crimes and financing terrorist organisations outside the UAE.
The court upheld the ruling issued by Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court, slamming life imprisonment on two suspects and four others with a 10-year sentence.
Two of the convicts, Mr. Surajo Muhammad and Mr. Saleh Adamu, are to spend the rest part of their lives in the UAE prison while the others, Mr. Ibrahim Alhassan, Mr. AbdurRahman Musa, Mr. Bashir Yusuf and Mr. Muhammad Isa will each spend 10 years.
The court also ordered the convicts be deported from the country after serving their terms, and the confiscation of all communications devices, including computers and mobile phones.
The convicts, according to the court, allegedly used bureau de change operations to send $782,000 to Boko Haram in 17 separate transfers from Dubai to Nigeria between 2015 and 2016.
Zulum, however, acknowledged the rights of families of those convicted who, according to the report, have raised questions on the UAE court judgment and maintained that the convicts were innocent of the charges.
The governor urged the “federal government to consider setting up a multi-stakeholder team with trusted representatives from the Federal Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad, and the ECOWAS Intergovernmental Action Group on Terrorism Financing in West Africa, GIABA, to work with the UAE Government to look into the issues raised by families alleging foul play.
The government, he said, should also follow up on the findings by the UAE with the hope of using the intelligence, if authenticated, to expand the search for other Boko Haram sponsors.
The governor urged the people of Borno to continue praying for God to expose all sponsors of Boko Haram.
He added that anyone who knowingly benefits from the crisis at the expense of peace in the state will receive the wrath of God.
The 22nd report of the United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team had identified charitable donations, extortion, smuggling and ransom remittances from kidnapping as some of the ways through which Boko Haram raises funds.