Three months after the Nigerian government promised to arraign about 400 alleged Boko Haram sponsors and financiers of the deadly sect, the government appears to have mellowed down on the prosecution.
SaharaReporters learnt that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, is covering up the identities of the sponsors, many of them being from a region of the country, while there is also a plot to scuttle their prosecution.
“Three months and no prosecution has been heard about the 400 sponsors and funders of Boko Haram and bandits. It is an ongoing cover-up by Malami,” a top source stated.
SaharaReporters had in April reported that Malam was unhappy and angry about the recent arrest of the persons allegedly funding Boko Haram, including operators of some Bureau De Change who facilitated the transfer of money to the terrorists.
A top source in government had told SaharaReporters how Malami was opposed to the raid and subsequently at loggerheads with the task force for carrying it out.
The series of arrests were made in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara, according to a Daily Trust report.
It was also reported that traders at the foreign exchange open market in Wapa, Fagge Local Government, were picked up on March 9, 15th and 16th.
SaharaReporters had revealed that apart from Malami opposing the raid, he also opposed having the names of those arrested released to the public.
“Malami was opposed to the raid and now he opposes having the names of those arrested revealed. So, he is fighting the task force that carried out the raid. He is saying it was illegal.
“You see, some of those arrested were people he had freed through his Special Fiat Court that sat in Niger state and parts of Abuja. Those guys are wealthy and he wants to collect money from them and let them off,” the source had told SaharaReporters.
It has been reported that 19 Bureax De Change owned by persons with “direct connection with Boko Haram” were uncovered, while over N300 billion was found to have been pumped into the funding of terrorism in the country.
So, there is a huge amount of money involved, transferred through illicit means.
Those arrested are reportedly being kept in military and Department of State Services facilities in Abuja and other places.
But despite Malami’s resistance to having their names revealed to the public, the identities of some Bureau De Change operators arrested for facilitating the transfer of money to the terrorists have been revealed.
Some of them were traders at the foreign exchange open market in Wapa, Fagge Local Government of Kano state and identified as Baba Usaini, Abubakar Yellow (Amfani), Yusuf Ali Yusuf (Babangida), Ibrahim Shani, Auwal Fagge and Muhammad Lawan Sani (a gold dealer).
Despite being the nation that has suffered the heaviest casualties through Boko Haram atrocities for many years, with over 30,000 thousand people killed and millions of others displaced, Nigeria has shown weakness in dealing decisively with the terrorists and blocking their source of funding.
SaharaReporters had also in the first week of May reported that the government was set to arraign the 400 alleged Boko Haram sponsors and financiers.
The media aide to the Minister of Justice, Dr Umar Gwandu had said that the prosecution of the suspects “will commence as quickly as possible.”
Gwandu hinted that charges would soon be preferred against the suspects but he declined further comment when asked for update on the investigation.
Meanwhile, three months after, nothing had been heard about the supposed prosecution.
SaharaReporters had also today reported that human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, wrote to the AGF, Malami, requesting for information on the prosecution of the over 400 suspects.
In a letter titled ‘REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON PERSECUTION OF ARRESTED 400 SPONSORS OF TERRORISM IN NIGERIA’, Falana had raised some concerns about their prosecution and asked Malami to respond within seven days, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
The letter dated August 3 had read, “On May 04, it was widely reported in the print and electronic media that the Federal Government had concluded arrangements to prosecute about 400 alleged sponsors and financiers of terrorism in Nigeria. In the said publication, your office assured the nation that the suspects would be arraigned after the industrial action recently embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
In view of the terrorist attacks being unleashed on law abiding citizens by the groups of insurgents in several parts of the country, we strongly commend the move by the Federal Government to prosecute the suspects who were reported to have been arrested in a nationwide operation a few months ago.
“We, however, request that our law firm be furnished with information with respect to when criminal charges were filed against the suspects since the strike by JUSUN has been called off. Kindly ensure that we are furnished with the requested information within 7 days of the receipt of this letter in accordance with the provisions of Freedom of Information Act.”