FG Begins Profiling Of Nigerians Linked To Terrorism Financing

 

The Federal Government has begun profiling towards prosecution, well-placed Nigerians suspected of being financiers of terrorism in the country.

Briefing journalists on Friday in Abuja, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said the arrest of the suspects followed the recent convictions of some Nigerians on terrorism financing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He said that investigations conducted have established reasonable evidence of the involvement of the highly placed individuals, businessmen and institutions across the country in financing the Boko Haram terrorists.

“As you will actually know, sometimes back there were certain convictions of Nigerians allegedly involved in terrorism financing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” he said in reaction to the extent of prosecution.

“That gave rise to wider and far-reaching investigations in Nigeria and I’m happy to report that arising from the wider coverage investigation that has been conducted in Nigeria, a number of people, both institutional and otherwise, were found to be culpable.

“I mean a reasonable ground for suspicion of terrorism financing has been established or perhaps has been proven to be in existence in respect of the transactions of certain higher-profile individuals and businessmen across the country.”

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Although Malami declined to disclose names of the terrorist financiers nor the number of those found culpable, he simply stated that a large number of persons were involved, adding that he is not at liberty to disclose further, as investigations (which have reached an advanced stage) and profiling continue.

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
File photo of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

 

He added, “I’m happy to report that investigation has been ongoing for a long and it has reached an advanced stage.

“Arising from the investigation, there exists, certainly, reasonable grounds for suspicion that a lot of Nigerians, high-profile, institutional and otherwise, are involved in terrorism financing and they are being profiled for prosecution.

“In essence, it is indeed true that the government is prosecuting and it’s indeed initiating processes of prosecuting those high-profile individuals that are found to be financing terrorism. It is indeed true.”

“The message is clear: nobody is going to be spared, no stone will be left unturned. We shall certainly and aggressively pursue those people that are involved in terrorist financing as far as the Nigerian state is concerned,” he declared.

Nigeria has been grappling with series of security challenges ranging from Boko Haram terrorism in the northeast to banditry in the northwest, kidnapping for ransom in several parts of the country, ritual, agitations for secession among several others.

The country has been battling insurgency for over a decade with over 36,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the northeast.

As part of measures to rejig the entire security architecture, President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year replaced his four top military commanders in a bid to better combat the insurgency that has also displaced more than two million people from their homes since 2009.

ISWAP split from mainstream Boko Haram in 2016 and became a dominant group, launching attacks on military bases and ambushing troops while abducting travellers at fake checkpoints.

Since 2019, the army has mostly withdrawn from villages and smaller bases into so-called “super camps”, fortified garrisons meant to give better protection against attacks.

But critics say the strategy has left jihadists with more freedom to roam untouched in rural areas and made highways vulnerable to kidnappings and assaults.

Lagos Arraigns Truck Owner, Driver Over Death Of Chidinma Ajoku, Others

Mother of the 27-year-old Chidinma Ajoku look at the picture of her daughter on her phone. Chidinma was killed in a Lagos road accident on July 26 while returning from work.

 

The Lagos State Government has arraigned two persons, Sadiq Okanlawon and Wasiu Lekan for the unlawful killing of 26-year-old Chidinma Ajoku, her colleague, Nnaekpe Chima and one Daniel Okwuoge.

The Attorney General of Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) who personally led the prosecution of the two defendants informed Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile that a three-count charge of involuntary manslaughter had been filed against the truck driver and the owner.

He said that the state had lined up 13 witnesses to testify against the defendants.

He asked the court to allow the counts to be read to them so they could take their plea.

In the first count, the truck driver, Sadiq Okanlawon, and the truck owner, Wasiu Lekan were charged with involuntary manslaughter contrary to Section 224 and punishable under S229 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015.

The truck said to have killed Chidinma and another passenger on Sunday.

 

The sad incident was said to have occurred when they ran into the victims with their truck at about 4 pm on July 26, 2020, at the Ilasamaja area of the Oshodi Express Way.

After the counts were read to them in Yoruba, through an interpreter, the two defendants pleaded not guilty.

Justice Okikolu-Ighile has ordered the remand of the defendants in the custody of the police pending when the state can comply with the COVID-19 guidelines for their remand at the Correctional Centre.

She adjourned the case to the 20th and the 26th for trial.

LG Funds: NFIU Does Not Have Powers To Prosecute, Says Lawyer

A lawyer, George Eke

 

A legal practitioner, George Eke, says the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) does not have the powers to prosecute culprits.

Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he said that unlike the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the NFIU is incapacitated with arraigning violators of some financial crimes.

“My only worry is that they (NFIU) don’t have prosecutorial powers. And you cannot begin to threaten anybody when you cannot take the person to court and prosecute him.

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“But I think they want to hide under their sister organisation, the EFCC because it has overwhelming powers to prosecute,” he said on Tuesday.

His comments come two days after the Nigeria Governors’ Forum urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the NFIU to order over funds allocated to all Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country.

In a statement by the NGF’s spokesman, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors said the agency was dabbling into a matter that was beyond its mandate.

But reacting, he said the local governments are short of funds, lamented that the state governors have not given the local councils their dues from the joint accounts.

He alleged that most governors have rubber-stamps the local governments to the extent that about 80 per cent of the states don’t have elected local government chairmen.

“We expected that the NGF was going to react in this manner. The reason is that the joint account is very important to the governors.

“As a matter of fact, that is actually what attracts quite a number of people to contest for that position because it is like a free fund.

“The intendment of the constitution is that these monies will be paid into the joint account and the governors, in turn, will pass it to the local governments so that they can have this third-tier development,” he stated.

People Use Illegally Acquired Money To Compromise Prosecution – Garba Shehu

The Presidency has alleged that some corrupt individuals are using monies they acquired illegally to compromise their investigation and sometimes prosecution.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said this on Sunday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, while addressing the issue of the travel ban placed on 50 high-profile individuals by the Federal Government.

He explained that the move was in the interest of concluding cases that have dragged on for too long “and held our judiciary captive”.

“Everybody is complaining, the judiciary wants to move forward. People are using illegally acquired money and property, they are using this to compromise the investigation and sometimes prosecution and they are making it very difficult for our courts to function,” he said.

Speaking further, the presidential aide appealed to individuals who got their wealth through corrupt practices to return such looted funds to the nation’s treasury.

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He stressed that doing such would be in the overall interest of the nation.

“It is in our interest as a nation. If it is your money, you take it home. If it is not, you return it to the treasury,” he said.

Mr Shehu had announced the decision of the Federal Government in a statement on Saturday, one day after a Federal High Court in Abuja upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 6.

The order, among other things, allows for the interim seizure of assets linked to the investigation, ongoing criminal trials, and other related offences.

It also empowers the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), in liaison with relevant investigative agencies, to temporarily seize properties linked with corruption, to prevent the dissipation of such assets.

The move has attracted both criticism and praise. Among the critics are the Peoples Democratic Party, and human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) and the Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

Benue Government Issues Ultimatum On Arms Surrendering

Benue, ultimatum, arms surrender, amnesty programmeThe Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom on Friday, gave the Agatu community the ultimatum to surrender all illegal weapons in their possession, or stand at risk of prosecution.

The directive which came after the state council meeting that took place on Friday, is part of efforts in the avowed determination the government to rid the state of illegal arms.

Governor Ortom said that the opportunity given to Agatu people is under the amnesty program of his government.

He said “the Benue state executive council took this decision of the order of illegal weapons, under the state’s amnesty program as conditions for security protection against herdsmen attack”.

The youths of the area have told the governor they will abide by the ultimatum as long as there is show of sincerity.

Activist Protests Okah’s Prosecution

A prison rights activist, Golden Miles Bhudu on Monday protested the prosecution of Henry Okah at a South Africa court.

The activist  insisted that Mr Okah is not a terrorist and that the South African court prosecuted an innocent man.

On January 21, a Johannesburg Magistrate court in South African found Mr Okah guilty of terrorism charges levelled against him by the federal government of Nigeria.

However, Mr. Bhudu is of the opinion that South Africa should not be involved in the case.

“South Africa had no right to charge him,” He said.

“Mr. Henry Okah is a freedom fighter; He is not a terrorist,” Mr Bhudu said outside the High Court in Johannesburg.

“My brothers and sisters wake up and smell the coffee; an innocent man has been prosecuted. Mr Henry Okah is not a bloody terrorist.”

Mr. Bhudu appeared at the court dressed in orange prison overalls with chains wrapped around him whilst displaying two posters in his hands.

“Henry Okah is a political detainee and not a terrorist, says SAPOHR (The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR))” and “Henry Okah’s trial re-enacts Rivonia trial of 1964, says SAPOHR,” the placards read.

Zambia Strips Ex-president Of Immunity From Prosecution

Zambia’s parliament stripped former President Rupiah Banda of immunity from prosecution on Friday, clearing the way for investigators to arrest him for corruption-related offences.

Banda is accused of abuse of office, corrupt acquisition of public property and misappropriation of public funds involving more than $11 million during his tenure as president.

Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said the government had concluded its investigations and were ready to prosecute.

“We bring this motion in the interest of the country,” Kabimba said,

Banda was swept from office in 2011 by current President Michael Sata, whose government has launched several high-profile graft probes into deals struck by the former administration while it ran Africa’s biggest copper-producing country.

Kabimba has accused Banda of siphoning $2.5 million from the treasury in a 2008 oil deal and the former president has also been accused of using public funds to finance his 2011 campaign.

Banda’s lawyer Robert Amsterdam said in a statement that Friday’s action in parliament was aimed at getting rid of political competitors.

Sata’s government has already won convictions against a few Banda officials and has been investigating suspected shortfalls in tax collection revenues from copper.

In February, Banda who then enjoyed immunity from prosecution, refused to appear before a team of investigators, which summoned him for questioning on graft allegations.