Commitment Towards Preventing Terrorism Financing, Violent Extremism 

To drive a collective resolution and citizen-oriented approach towards the prevention of terrorism, terrorism financing and violent extremism with specific focus on North-East Nigeria, the  Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria), recently convened a multi-stakeholder national dialogue where commitments were made. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports 

Globally, terrorism constitutes a threat, and for Nigeria, it’s at a high level. Over the years, attempts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in the country have been on high heat, policy attention has been shifted towards many sources of terrorism financing, which have continued to fuel terrorism and other violent conflicts in Nigeria. 

This increased level of terrorism was what necessitated the recent multi- stakeholder national dialogue driven by a collective resolution and citizen-oriented approach towards the prevention of terrorism, terrorism financing and violent extremism, organised by the  Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria).

Financed by the Inter-Governmental Action Against Money Laundering In West Africa-Economic Community of West African States (GIABA-ECOWAS), the event which held at Abuja Continental Hotel, was themed Dialogue on Preventing Terrorism Financing, and Violent Extremism, was a gathering of state and non-state actors as part of the effort to drive a collective resolution and citizen-oriented approach towards the prevention of terrorism, terrorism financing and violent extremism with specific focus on North-East Nigeria.   

The workshop was attended by over 100 participants from Anti-corruption agencies, Security agencies, Defence institutions, Private Security outfits, Financial Sector, Traditional institution, Community-Based Organisations, Faith-Based Organisations, Women-led organisations, Youth-led organisations, State Government, Civil Society and the Media.

Some of them include Chairman Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ola Olukoyede; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu, SAN; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Rotimi Oluwaseun Akinde; Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Hon. Solomon Bob; Chairman, House Committee on Civil Societies & Development Matters, Hon. Victor Obuzor; Chief of the Air Staff represented by Air Cdre David Dung Pwajok; Head of Complaint Response Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, CSP Al-Mustapha Sani; Chairman, Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr. Muyi Magaji; the National Security Adviser (NSA) represented by Commander Daminlola Owonuwa; Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS represented by Dr. Isaac Armstrong; Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps represented by Comdt. Ekundayo Remi Omolade; Commandant, NSCDC, Borno State Command, Comdt. Musa Farouk Kuram; Bauchi state Commissioner of Police represented by Police Public Relations Officer, Bauchi state Command, Mr. Ahmed Muhammed Wakil; Benue State Governor represented by Mr. Leo Angelo Viashima. 

The Dialogue had some technical sessions with presentations titled: Preventing violent extremism and countering the financing of terrorism: The role of state actors (military, police, NSCDC, and other agencies) by Barrister Tijani Mohammed; and Preventing violent extremism and countering the financing of terrorism: the role of non-state actors (citizens, media & civil society) by Dr. Yakubu Sani Gombe. 

Terrorism Finance

According to the Executive Director,  Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Head, Transparency International in Nigeria (TI-Nigeria), Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), without any doubt, terrorism finance is the backbone of terrorist groups as funds go into buying weapons, recruiting militants, and operating terrorist organisations. 

Quoting the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) he said:  “terrorist groups need money to sustain themselves and carry out terrorist acts”. 

Putting it in context, he said terrorist financing encompasses the means and methods used by terrorist organisations to finance their activities, leveraging funds from legitimate sources such as business profits and charitable organisations, or from illegal activities including trafficking in weapons, drugs or people, or kidnapping.

Causes, Consequences of Terrorism Financing in Nigeria

In effect, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, terrorism diverts foreign investment, reduces capital inflows, destroys infrastructure, disturbs financial markets, impedes economic growth, and has significant negative impacts on social and cultural human rights. 

This is why the ED Rafsanjani believes the prevention of terrorism is highly desirable and should be a top priority of “our beloved country for sustainable development. The increasing concerns about the financing of terrorist activities within the country, have triggered unfavourable indices from the 2023 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which ranks Nigeria eighth among the top ten countries with the greatest levels of terrorism in the world. 

Citing examples he said: “In March 2024, the Federal Government naming 15 entities including nine individuals and six Bureau De Change operators and firms that are said to be involved in terrorism financing has highlighted the pressing issue of terrorism and terrorist financing in the country. 

“As poor awareness at community levels hamper collective monitoring and timely response to warning signals of potential terrorist activities and violent extremism, the security situation in Nigeria has become increasingly complex and uncertain, as various non-state armed groups have emerged and consolidated coercive power to terrorise the population in Nigeria, as evident with the activities of the armed bandits, criminal gangs, separatist groups, religious fundamentalists, amorphous kidnappers, and many others often referred to in the Nigerian media as “unknown gunmen”.

“The consequences of terrorism have continued to aggravate extreme poverty rates among Nigerians, internally displacement, devastated livelihoods, just as opportunities for broader growth, development and prosperity are destroyed.

“Moreover, weak security and surveillance at national borders contribute to the issue of terrorism financing in Nigeria. This lack of control and monitoring allows terrorists, as well as small arms and light weapons, to infiltrate the country quickly. 

“The former Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, revealed that 137 out of about 261 borders in the North-East and North-West are unguarded. With such easy access, terrorist organisations conduct operations and finance their activities more efficiently. This stresses the imperative of strengthening security measures at borders by Nigerian authorities to prevent the inflow of funds and resources for terrorist activities.

“Poor collaboration on the part of law enforcement and regulatory agencies has contributed to the problem of terrorist financing in Nigeria. Effective information sharing is crucial in combating terrorism financing, yet there seems to be a lack of coordination among various agencies and institutions. 

“This hinders the ability to track and intercept suspicious transactions and apprehend those responsible for financing terrorism. 

The lingering inter-agency rivalry among response agencies constitutes an impediment to intelligence gathering and information sharing for coordinated Response to potential violent signals.

” Unhealthy inter-agencies rivalry and struggles for superiority among response agencies competing for resources have been identified as major barriers to coordinated response to conflict warning signals at all levels. This in September 2022 had triggered a reaction from former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, who acknowledged that rivalry existed despite the fact that no individual agency could holistically handle security issues alone.

“More importantly, the capacity gaps within law enforcement and regulatory agencies also hamper efforts to address the challenge of terrorism financing effectively. These institutions must be adequately equipped and trained to detect and disrupt the financial networks of terrorist organisations. Without the requisite capacity, it becomes incredibly challenging to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in financing terrorism.”

The CISLAC ED added that poor governance and corruption drive terrorism and violent extremism, which are among observed cases in the North-East of Nigeria as they provide avenue to fund armed groups and criminal networks, prevent development of and weaken effective institutions of governance, depress social and economic development. 

“Also, religious dimension, which has to do with extremism, hard beliefs and ideologies held and taught by some religious leaders have led to indulgency in the North East,” he pointed out.

Policy Neglect in Legislative System, Structure

According to Rafsanjani, it would be pertinent to note that the legislature has a role to play given that politics are local and people-centred.

Pointing that every state in Nigeria has a state of Assembly with members representing local governments, he said: “There are 109 members in the Senate, located in the Federal Capital Territory and 360 seats in the House of Representatives. Every lawmaker represents a Constituency, they link national and state politics to the grassroots, reinforcing the notion that politics is essentially local and people-centred.

” However, inactive Legislative Constituency Offices across the country as a primary mechanism in detection and reporting of violent signals contributes to major policy neglect in reporting system and structure.”

Exploitation of the Financial Sector 

The CISLAC ED also lamented on how the financial sector has been exploited for terrorism financing, adding that the use of the financial sector indicates the increasing capabilities of some terrorist groups. 

These include the Bureau de Change operators, Point of Sale (POS) devices, wire transfers, and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, among other enabling platforms expanding the scope and depth of terrorism financing. 

“It is worrisome that illegal money exchangers including Bureau De Change have been featured in several Terrorism Financing investigations. The 2022 National Inherent Risk Assessment of Terrorism Financing report reveals that between 2019 and 2022, about 19 companies were linked to illegal money exchangers who have used their companies to comingle funds considered to be linked to Terrorism Financing.

” Illegal money exchangers are not under any form of regulations and as such, they implement any preventive measures. The activities of the illegal money exchangers provide a channel for moving illegally obtained funds for Terrorism Financing.

“While the Banking sector in particular has in recent times been subjected to strict regulations that intend to increase transparency and identify suspicious transactions; however, studies illustrate that the Banking sector continues to offer opportunities for terrorist financing; as current measures employed by banks have proven ineffective due to the knowledge gap that surrounds concrete methods terrorist financiers employ. 

“For instance, in March 2024, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) revealed that 70 per cent of financial fraud in Nigeria were carried out in the banking sector. This includes the inside and outside related fraud. This disturbing report exposes the extent of illicit funds movement through the banking sector.”

Role of Media in Reporting Factual Information 

Also touching on the role of the media in reporting such financial crimes, the ED said over-sensationalised media reportage with profit-oriented tendency and deliberate information misrepresentation contribute to violent extremism and social instability at all levels. 

“Factual misrepresentation and unverified information presentation by various media outfits trigger conflict insensitivity and violent response. Because of their roles in audience perception of events and issues, media framing and reportage are considered veritable instruments for violent prevention or de-escalation.”

GIABA’s Contribution to the Fight against Terrorism Financing, Violent Extremism 

GIABA, a specialised Institution of Economic Community of West African Stated (ECOWAS) with the mandate to coordinate the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in West Africa, is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and as such, GIABA is the FATF Style Regional Body for West Africa (FSRB). 

As part of its contribution to the fight against terrorism financing and violent extremism, GIABA sponsored the multi-stakeholder dialogue. 

According to GIABA Director General, Mr. Edwin W. Harris Jr., it was in response to the devastating effects of these crimes that the authorities of ECOWAS established GIABA in 2000 as a clear demonstration of their political will to address these challenges within the region and to support the global fight against these vices. 

Harris Jr., who was represented by GIABA Country Head in Nigeria, Tim Melaye, said the primary mandate of GIABA is to develop measures to protect the economies of member States from abuse and the laundering of the proceeds of crimes and to strengthen cooperation among its member States.

 In addition, GIABA is saddled with the responsibility of assessing member States’ compliance with International Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing standards.   


He said: “Since its establishment, GIABA has taken practical steps to promote the implementation of AML/CFT measures amongst its member States, including supporting the enactment and/or strengthening of AML/CFT legal and regulatory framework; development of National AML/CFT Strategies, national coordination through initiating the establishment of AML/CFT Inter-Ministerial committees; strengthening of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs); and capacity enhancement of competent authorities and other critical agencies involved in the implementation of AML/CFT laws and policies, through training, mentorship and provision of equipment.

“Other efforts include public awareness and sensitisation on the ills of ML/TF.  

The establishment of AML/CFT Information Centres in Lagos and Abidjan and strategic partnerships with civil society and the news media are yet other noble initiatives to promote public awareness, engender public support for regional AML/CFT campaigns, and serve as repositories of relevant information which researchers and the academia could leverage on.

” GIABA has also undertaken several research/typology studies, including the reports on Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW); Money Laundering and Insurgency, Study on Tax Fraud and Money Laundering in West Africa: A Human Development Perspective; Typologies of Tax Fraud and Money Laundering, and so on. We have also published mutual evaluation reports of member States, annual reports, etc; which could be valuable to the academic community.   

“On a broader context, the leadership of ECOWAS was obviously concerned, and deeply so, about the spate of violence extremism, banditry, and terrorism in the region, thus the need to take a decisive action in addressing the spread across the region. 

“From Nigeria, to Mali, to Niger, to Cote d’Ivoire, to Burkina Faso and so on. In 2018, ECOWAS developed a regional framework for counter-terrorism, The initiative was well received and led to the convening of series of experts meetings that brought stakeholders together across the spectrum. The point is to build a structure and find a homegrown (West African) solution that will abate the challenges. 

“The outcome was welcomed by both the council of ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council and subsequently, the Authority of Heads of State and Government. At its extraordinary summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2019 the summit gave strong consideration for the need to adopt the recommendation and take concrete steps. This led to the adoption of Regional Action plan to fight against Terrorism.”

He cited the eight adopted priorities as-“Strengthening national legal frameworks to prevent and combat terrorism; Enhancing broader security and controls to prevent the movement of terrorists and illicit goods; Strengthening intelligence sharing and cooperation among members States and relevant international organisation; Strengthening the capacity of security agencies to prevent and respond to terrorist threats; and Addressing the conditions that make it conducive to spread terrorism and violent extremism, including poverty, marginalisation, and radicalisation.

Others include Countering the Financing of Terrorism through enhance cooperation with financial institutions and law enforcement agencies;

Strengthening the legal and judicial framework to prosecute and bring terrorists to justice; and Promoting regional and international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including through partnerships with the United Nations and other international bodies.

Conclusively, he said it is the desire of GIABA, and indeed ECOWAS to have a safe and peaceful society, where we can all thrive, socially, politically, and economically. 

Pledge by ICPC

Going down memory lane, Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC),

Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu, SAN, said violent attacks and campaign of terror in North Eastern Nigeria started in 2009 and almost 15 years after, the region is yet to recover. 

“Thousands have been killed, properties worth billions destroyed, millions displaced from their ancestral homes, millions of children are out of school, poverty and malnutrition have worsened, etc. 

“The devastation caused by this campaign of terror cannot be easily quantified. The overall impact of terrorism has been profound. The process of rebuilding shattered communities and restoring stability will come at a cost but it is a task that must be done,” pointed out.

“But, how did this start and how were these violent acts sustained over the years? The answers to these important questions are necessary if we are determined to dismantle the sophisticated networks that manage the illicit financial flows that facilitate the purchase of arms, the recruitment of terrorists, operational logistics, etc. that help to sustain the reign of terror.

” Tackling this intricate problem of terrorism financing is essential, as it is fundamental to crippling the operational capabilities of extremist groups and restoring peace and security to the region. To this end, this meeting could not have come at a better time.

Poverty and illiteracy have been identified as some of the main causes of terrorism in Nigeria. 

“These twin ills must be tackled effectively to stop extremism and violent dissent. Bad Governance and corruption have a direct relation with the prevalence of poverty and illiteracy. The ICPC therefore has an active role to play in the prevention and elimination of these vices that create the conditions that allow extremism and terrorism to take root in the society.

“ICPC is fully committed to contributing its expertise and resources to this fight. We are prepared to intensify our efforts in financial oversight, enhance our investigative and prosecutorial capacities, and work closely with all stakeholders to disrupt the financial networks that fuel terrorism.

“Our approach encompasses not only rigorous enforcement but also preventive measures aimed at fostering economic and social development. Through community engagement, educational initiatives, and support for economic empowerment, we aim to address the root causes of extremism, building a resilient foundation for our future.

“The collaboration of every sector represented here is crucial. By combining our strengths, enhancing transparency, and reinforcing regulatory frameworks, we can sever the lifelines that enable terrorism. Your dedication and relentless efforts in law enforcement, civic engagement, and legislative governance are vital to our collective success.

“As we move forward, let the ICPC’s commitment to this cause be clear — we are ready to stand at the forefront of these efforts, ensuring that our collective actions lead to meaningful and lasting impacts,” he vowed.

EFCC’s Follow the Money Trail Focus

In confronting the scourge of terrorism financing that oxygenate the activities of violent organisations such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, and those of Yan Bindiga and Yan Tadda that are on the fringes, the Executive Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, said: “For us in the EFCC, like most Nigerians, the concern is on how this crisis continues to defy solutions and fester? How is it that the terrorist groups in the region are able to sustain their operations, acquire more sophisticated weaponry and engage in daring combat with the Nigerian military?

“It would seem that an economy of criminality has developed around terrorism and violent extremism in the region, where actors who are profiting from the chaos do not cherish the return of civil order. How for instance do we explain the activities of supposed Non-Profit Organisations who profess to want to provide succor to the distressed but end up exploiting their misery for financial gains? How do we explain the action of unscrupulous actors who hide under the cover of humanitarian activities to fund terrorist groups? These are issues that we must continue to interrogate.

“The EFCC has had cause to prosecute so-called promoters of Non-Profit Organisation who exploited the desperate conditions in the North-east to profiteer. I am sure many of you are aware of a lady that is called Mama Boko Haram, who at the peak of the insurgency positioned herself as a credible intermediary for the insurgents, but is now in jail for exploiting the distressed citizens of the North east for personal gain.

“Part of the focus of the EFCC in the quest to tackle terrorism and violent extremism in that region is to follow the funds trail of critical actors in the region and cutting off the supply line of illicit funds to known criminal groups. This responsibility has seen the Commission pay more attention to the movement of funds by NPOs in the region, who are now required to make a declaration to the EFCC.

”  Indeed the enactment of the Money Laundering( Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 and the Terrorism ( Prevention and Prohibition ) Act, 2022 have strengthened the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing framework, with the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering, SCUML which is domiciled in the Commission given powers to monitor, supervise, regulate  and assess the activities of Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) which are vulnerable to terrorist financing and money laundering in the country.”

He charged members of the Civil Society to assist the anti-corruption agencies to tackle illicit financial flows into the region, adding that this calls for peer vigilance and willingness to blow the whistle against renegade civic society actors, just as he noted that citizens’ mobilization against terrorism financing and violent extremism in the North-east, is critical.

Legislative Contributions 

The legislature were not absent in this dialogue. In his goodwill message, Chairman, House Committee on Civil Society Organisations and Development Partners/Matters

Hon. Engr. Victor Obuzor MNSE, DSSRS, Member of the Federal House of Representatives, representing the people of Ahoada-West/Ogba,Egbema,Ndoni Federal Constituency, Rivers State of Nigeria, said terrorism has led to the difficult security environment that has Internally displaced an estimated two million people in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States, and the external displacement of more than 333,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries, principally Cameroon, Chad, and Niger is on record.

He said To effectively combat terrorism, it is of paramount importance to disrupt the flow of funds to these organizations. He however said while cutting off the source of terror financing may not entirely eradicate terrorism, it can significantly impact the frequency and scale of attacks carried out by these groups

“ The Nigerian government has made efforts to curb the activities of such groups through legislative measures, utilizing the law as a tool to address these security threats. However, despite these efforts, more needs to be done to effectively sever the various sources of finance available to terrorist organizations in Nigeria.

Also speaking, Spokesperson, House of Representatives, Hon. Akin Rotimi Jr; said while terror financing is a global menace that poses a significant threat to security, economic development, and stability in Nigeria, terrorism financing is a pressing concern that demands immediate attention. He however commended the government and security agencies for the role they play to curb the menace, just as he pledged continued support from the legislative. 

Spotlight on Human Trafficking-funded Terrorism

 Aondoaseer Leonard-Angelo Viashima, Director General – Benue State Bureau for International Cooperation and Developments Unit, who represented the Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia, touched on an angle that was overlooked by all- funding terrorism through human trafficking. 

According to him,  the stories that come out from cases of terrorism go beyond the norm as it has delved into human trafficking. He pointed out that most of the terrorists also fund their acts of terror by raiding villages and abducting young girls to be sold off afterwards to willing buyers. The proceeds from those sales are now channeled into funding their acts of terror. He charged the relevant authorities to raise the gusto in fighting the hydra-headed monster to a conclusive end. 

Multi-Stakeholder Commitments

As expected, commitments were made and they include 

Deliberate tracking of funds trail of critical actors in the region and cutting off the supply line of illicit funds to known criminal groups, to tackle terrorism financing and violent extremism in the North East.; Whistle-blower protection and data security to encourage timely reporting of threat signals and elicit appropriate and coordinated response; Strengthening community surveillance system and collaboration through proactive approach and local initiative to identify and de-escalate threats to sensitisation process and de-radicalisation effort; and enhancing collaboration between Civil Society and Anti-Corruption Agencies through combined strengths, enhanced transparency, and reinforced regulatory frameworks. 

Others include Relentless efforts in Civil Society advocacy towards law enforcement, civic engagement, and legislative governance for enhanced accountability and positive orientation, required to effectively tackle illicit financial flows, and disrupt the financial networks that fuel terrorism in the North East; Strengthening capacity of anti-corruption agencies to build institutionalised expertise and resources in financial oversight, enhance investigation and prosecution; and Building synergy among government agencies, civil society organizations, religious leaders, educators, law enforcement, and other stakeholders for verifiable and timely information-sharing essential for identifying and addressing emerging threats, implementing targeted interventions, and maximizing resources. 

Also, Restoring community trust in counter-terrorism efforts by relevant agencies through improved recruitment and promotion standards for high operational and response efficiency; Enhancing security and surveillance across national borders to prevent infiltration of small arms and light weapons and counter sources of funding for terrorism and violent extremism; Activating functional Legislative Constituency Offices across the country to facilitate proactive reporting of threat signals and timely response; Mainstreaming the Traditional Institutions, Religious/Community Leaders, women/youth-led Associations in community mobilisation against terrorism and terrorism financing, to elicit inclusiveness, trust, ownership and sustainability; Integrating the gatekeeping system led by key actors at community levels to support efficient information gathering and accurate reporting process that facilitate Early Response mechanisms; and Promoting comprehensive and inclusive regulation of social media giving cognisance to human rights as a proactive measure to de-escalate tension and violent extremism.

Related Articles