The Federal Government and Britain have tightened their grip on funds flowing to the Boko Haram and its breakaway faction, Ansaru, in their determination to cripple the activities of the terror groups. Saturday Punch learnt that Nigeria and Britain had in conjunction with some other countries intensified the search for sources of funding for these groups and blocked many of them.
A top security source said the clampdown involved banks and other financial institutions in these countries and the effort had made it very difficult for the groups to receive funds through such conventional means.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, is coordinating the effort.
Boko Haram has been involved in the bombing of churches, banks, schools, military and police formations, media houses in some northern states and Abuja. The acts have claimed hundreds of lives.
Boko Haram has also claimed responsibility for the killings of some prominent northerners and failed attempts to assassinate some top monarchs and Islamic religious leaders.
Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, fled Nigeria to Mali some months ago after he was almost apprehended in Yobe State.
He is believed to have relocated to Forecariah in neighbouring Guinea to evade capture by a multinational force led by Nigeria and France.
Ansaru, whose full name is Jama’atu Ansaril Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan, broke away from Boko Haram sometime last year and has claimed responsibility for the kidnap of some foreigners in northern Nigeria and Cameroon.
Currently, Nigerian and French special forces are searching for seven French nationals kidnapped in Northern Cameroon on Tuesday by suspected Ansaru militants.
Security sources said the blocking of funds for these groups was the reason why its members had been robbing banks and kidnapping foreigners for ransom.
A security source said, “Under the regulations guiding NFIU’s operations, there is something called the rendition of reports on funds by banks. They do it daily. It is part of NFIU’s job to track the movement of terrorist funds.
“Whatever information NFIU gets, it shares with relevant agencies in Nigeria and foreign countries.”
The source, however, declined to give details of the blocking of terrorist funds, “in order not to jeopardise operations.”
When contacted, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, declined comment on the matter, describing it as a “sensitive issue.”
Press and Political Officer, British High Commission, Abuja, Robert Fitzpatrick, confirmed that both nations were collaborating on the tracking and blocking of terrorist funds.
“The UK takes the movement of illicit funds seriously. We work closely with the Nigerian Government,” he said in an email.
He said both countries were obligated to fight terrorism under the terms of a July 19, 2011 communique signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and Prime Minister David Cameron in Abuja during the latter’s visit to Nigeria.