The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) has said it is aware that six Nigerians have been convicted by an Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over alleged funding of Boko Haram.
“We are aware of the development but we cannot confirm immediately”, said Abdulrahman Balogun, the spokesperson to Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the NIDCOM chairperson, in a phone interview with Monday evening.
A Daily Trust investigation had revealed that the appellate court in Abu Dhabi upheld the imprisonment imposed on the six Nigerian citizens found guilty of funding the deadly sect.
Two of the convicts, Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu, were sentenced to life imprisonment while the remaining four, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbdurRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa were handed ten-year imprisonment respectively, the report stated.
The convicts, according to a court judgment exclusively obtained by Daily Trust, were tried and convicted in 2019 in what seems to be the first clear-cut linkage of funding of Boko haram to certain individuals, a situation that has been elusive over the years.
The report stated that the court judgment showed that between 2015 and 2016, the convicts were involved in different cash transfers in favour of Boko Haram to the tune of $782,000 even as those close to them said the transactions were for legitimate purposes.
Contacted to find out if the Nigerian government is aware of the situation, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) did not respond to calls or reply texts.
Meanwhile, according to the Daily Trust report, the AGF said the Nigerian government was aware of the matter and had written the UAE seeking records of proceedings but was yet to get feedback.
“Nigerian government has written firstly for copies of the proceedings, which will give us the opportunity to see whether justice was done or not. And on whether they have committed the crime, we requested to know who and who are involved so that the Nigerian government will know what to do next.
“Nigerian government is working but it doesn’t have the exclusive control, it has to rely on the information provided by UAE. So, it is not in control of the speed of response or action”, Mr Malami was quoted as saying by Daily Trust.
“We are working on both the issues that they did not receive a fair hearing and that they were alleged to have supported Boko Haram activities.”
The Embassy of the UAE in Nigeria did not respond to request for comments. A text message seeking a reaction from the embassy was not responded to as of press time.
Boko Haram Funding
For over a decade, the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has caused tens of thousands of deaths.
Nigeria’s security forces have been at war with the dangerous sect, largely limiting their activities to three Northeast states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe. Nigerian forces are also working with those of neighbouring countries, Chad and Niger, in a multi-national force to defeat the terrorists.
But what has remained elusive is identifying individuals or bodies proving funds and intel to the dangerous sect.
In 2014, Ali Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State, where Boko Haram is based, was accused by an Australian negotiator, Stephen Davis, of sponsoring the deadly group.
The accusation did not fall through as there was not enough evidence.
Mr Sheriff, at the time, described the allegations as political and vowed to take legal action against the Australian, commissioned by the Nigerian government to help rescue more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants April 14.
The 22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team in 2018 identified extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping as parts of ways Boko Haram is funded.