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NFIU Uncovers IPOB’s Cells In 22 Countries

 

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has uncovered 27 cells belonging to the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in 22 countries across the globe, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In a document obtained by Channels Television on ‘Counter Terrorism Financing Newsletter’ dated 26th February, 2024, the NFIU said the US and the UK house the largest numbers of these IPOB cells per country, with seven and six operating IPOB cells respectively in both countries.

The Federal Government had in 2017 proscribed IPOB and designated the self-determination group a terrorist organisation. Its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently being tried on terrorism charges by the government.

The NFIU linked the running of IPOB to 54 individuals across the globe.

The document revealed: “The NFIU confirmed that the diaspora affiliates of the IPOB group have spread over 22 countries across the globe. Further analysis exposed 27 entities across the globe registered in the name of the group, the US and the UK had the highest number of registrations, having seven and six registered entities, respectively.

“The analysis further indicates that the group has several bank accounts in different countries where funds are being received from various contributors with the narrations ‘Monthly Dues, Services and for ESN’, among others, then later disbursed for various operations.

“It was confirmed that one of the major sources of revenue for the group is crowdfunding by several individuals abroad, mostly Nigerians.

“It was observed that over $160,000 was disbursed to Transmission, Media, and Broadcasting companies in Bulgaria, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The analysis profiled the leader of the group, his addresses, and mobile numbers abroad with other 53 individuals associated with the dissident group. The report was forwarded to Law Enforcement for further investigation.”

The NFIU further revealed that a betting platform, simply identified as ‘XC’, filed a Suspicious Transaction Report on a 24-year Nigerian customer from North-Central, Nigeria.

“This 24-year-old from Nigeria’s North-Central region received over N350,000 in his betting wallet, believed to be ransom money from a kidnapping,” the NFIU said.

In another case, the financial intelligence unit exposed a terrorist attempting to evade being detected. It noted that the individual made structured cash withdrawals from different Automated Teller Machines and purchased flight tickets to high-risk areas, using credit cards.

The NFIU explained that whenever the individual exceeded his withdrawal limit, he would adopt alternative methods of travel.

“The terrorist then attempted suspicious transfers exceeding €1,000 to a local charity with potential links to terrorism. These transactions, along with others for luxury goods and escort services, raised red flags,” the newsletter stated.

The NFIU urged law enforcement agencies to investigate transactions by individuals linked to known terrorists or financiers; unauthorised tax collection or forced donations in terrorism-prone areas and Bureau de Change operators facilitating transfers within suspected networks.

Other areas the unit wants security agencies to beam their searchlights are multiple cash deposits in bank accounts; Point of Sale operators receiving large deposits followed by cash withdrawals; money transfers from Nigeria to high-risk countries; recruitment of individuals to open multiple bank accounts; and financial transfers to charities linked to terrorism.

Opeoluwani Akintayo

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Opeoluwani Akintayo
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