New Telegraph

North East: Time To End Terrorism Financing, Violent Extremism

Terrorism constitutes a global threat, and Nigeria, unfortunately, is one of the countries that face a high level of extremism. While attempts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in the North East of the country continue, policy attention has been shifted towards many sources of terrorism financing, which have continued to fuel terrorism and other violent conflicts in Nigeria.

Without doubt, terrorism finance is the backbone of terrorist groups as funds go into buying weapons, recruiting militants, and operating terrorist organisations. Just as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) puts it: “Terrorist groups need money to sustain themselves and carry out terrorist acts”.

Terrorist financing in this context, encompasses the means and methods used by terrorist organisations to finance their activities, leveraging funds from legitimate sources such as business profits and charitable organisations, or from illegal activities including trafficking in weapons, drugs or people, or kidnapping.

It is worthy of note that poor governance and corruption drive terrorism and violent extremism, which are among observed cases in the North-East. Also, religious dimension, which has to do with extremism, hard beliefs and ideologies held and taught by some religious leaders have led to indulgence in the affected area.

The consequences of terrorism have continued to aggravate extreme poverty rates among Nigerians, internally displacement, devastated livelihoods, just as opportunities for broader growth, development and prosperity are destroyed. The increasing concerns about the financing of terrorist activities within the country have triggered unfavourable indices from the 2023 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which ranks Nigeria eighth among the top 10 countries with the greatest levels of terrorism in the world.

In March 2024, the decision of the Federal Government to name 15 entities including nine individuals and six Bureau De Change operators and firms that are said to be involved in terrorism financing has highlighted the pressing issue of terrorism and its financing in the country.

As poor awareness at community levels hamper collective monitoring and timely response to warning signals of potential terrorist activities and violent extremism, the security situation in Nigeria has become increasingly complex and uncertain, as various non-state armed groups have emerged and consolidated coercive power to terrorize the population in Nigeria, as evident in the North East and many other parts of

Thus there is clearly the need for all the stakeholders to synergise their efforts in combating this scourge if the security situation in the country is to improve

the country. Moreover, weak security and surveillance at national borders contribute to the issue of terrorism financing in Nigeria. This lack of control and monitoring allows terrorists, as well as small arms and light weapons, to infiltrate the country quickly.

This stresses the imperative of strengthening security measures at borders by the authorities to prevent the inflow of funds and resources for terrorist activities. It has been observed in recent engagements by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre financed by GIABAECOWAS that poor collaboration on the part of law enforcement and regulatory agencies has contributed to the problem of terrorist financing in Nigeria.

Effective information sharing is crucial in combating terrorism financing, yet there seems to be a lack of coordination among various agencies and institutions in this critical area. More importantly, the capacity gaps within law enforcement and regulatory agencies also hamper efforts to address the challenge of terrorism financing effectively. These institutions must be adequately equipped and trained to detect and disrupt the financial networks of terrorist organisations.

The financial sector has also been exploited for terrorism financing. The use of the financial sector indicates the increasing capabilities of some terrorist groups. These include the Bureau de Change operators, Point of Sale (POS) devices, wire transfers, and Designated Non Financial Businesses and Professions, among other enabling platforms expanding the scope and depth of terrorism financing.

It is worrisome that illegal money exchangers including Bureau de Change have been featured in several terrorism financing investigations. The 2022 National Inherent Risk Assessment of Terrorism Financing report reveals that between 2019 and 2022, about 19 companies were linked to illegal money exchangers who have used their companies to commingle funds considered to be linked to terrorism financing.

Furthermore, while the banking sector in particular has in recent times been subjected to strict regulations that intend to increase transparency and identify suspicious transactions; however, studies illustrate that the banking sector continues to offer opportunities for terrorist financing; as current measures employed by banks have proven ineffective due to the knowledge gap that surrounds concrete methods terrorist financiers employ.

Thus there is clearly the need for all the stakeholders to synergise their efforts in combating this scourge if the security situation in the country is to improve.

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