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Insecurity: Expert calls for end to terrorist financing, extremism in Northeast

Saheed also noted that weak security and surveillance at national borders contribute to the issue of terrorism financing in Nigeria.

Troops of the Nigerian Army eliminate 227 terrorists, apprehend 529 in 1 week [Twitter:@HQNigerianArmy]

Saheed stated this in an open letter made available to Pulse on Saturday, May 18.

He stated that terrorism constitutes a global threat, and Nigeria, unfortunately, is one of the countries that faces a high level of terrorism.

While attempts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in the Northeast of Nigeria continue, Saheed said policy attention has been shifted towards many sources of terrorism financing, which have continued to fuel terrorism and other violent conflicts in Nigeria.

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He said, “Without doubt, terrorism finance is the backbone of terrorist groups as funds go into buying weapons, recruiting militants, and operating terrorist organisations. Just as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) puts it, “terrorist groups need money to sustain themselves and carry out terrorist acts”.

“Terrorist financing, in this context, 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.”

He blamed poor governance and corruption as a major cause of terrorism and violent extremism, which are among observed cases in the North-East of Nigeria.

Saheed also noted that the religious dimension, which has to do with extremism, hard beliefs, and ideologies held and taught by some religious leaders, has led to indulgence in the North East.

He further noted that the consequences of terrorism have continued to aggravate extreme poverty rates among Nigerians, internal displacement, and devastated livelihoods, just as opportunities for broader growth, development and prosperity are destroyed.

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Saheed said, “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.

“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 contained in the piece, Saheed also noted that weak security and surveillance at national borders contribute to the issue of terrorism financing in Nigeria.

He said, “It has been observed in recent engagements by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) financed by GIABA-ECOWAS that poor collaboration on the part of law enforcement and regulatory agencies has contributed to the problem of terrorist financing in Nigeria.

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“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.”

Saheed also trickled down the issues of terror financing to the financial sector, noting that financial activities like Bureau de Change operators, Point of Sale (POS) devices, wire transfers, and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, among other enabling platforms, are 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.

“Furthermore, 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,” he added.

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