N18bn ISWAP makes N18bn funds annually through Nigeria, says ECOWAS
By Seun Aliu
The Islamic State for West Africa, (ISAWP) have moved over N18bn through the Nigerian financial system, Economic Community of West Africa, (ECOWAS) has said.
The terrorist group is currently operaring in many parts of West Africa including Nigeria.
ISWAP also recently established camps on the banks of River Niger giving it strategic advantage to access to weapons and material from Niger and Mali, two countries that are linked to River Niger.
The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, established by the Economic Community of West African States said on Saturday that Boko Haram splinter group in collaboration with ISWAP have moved some $36m for its operations through Nigeria.
In naira, the funds amount to N18b.
The funds are generated through commerce along the Lake Chad areas.
The group said ISWAP and Boko Haram continue to operate within Nigeria’s financial system.
The group said Nigeria has failed to effectively halt the Boko Haram and ISWAP criminal network.
It said even though the Department of State Services had significant ability to identify and investigate terrorist financing activity, and that it even conducts parallel financial and terrorism investigation, there was little evidence of the effectiveness of such efforts.
The group, known as GIABA, according to The PUNCH stated these in its 2021 Mutual Evaluation Report, where it also noted that Nigeria lacked an explicit policy to confiscate proceeds of crime or property of equivalent value, including terrorism financing.
The report indicted the Nigerian government for failing to seized assets linked to the terrorist group.
The PUNCH newspapers reported that the GIABA report was adopted by the global financial intelligence agency, Financial Action Task Force, whose recommendations help authorities to go after the money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes.
The report stated, “Boko Haram/ISWAP pose significant TF (Terrorist Financing) risks that are challenging to disrupt, operating in large part outside the formal financial and commercial system in the conflict zone.
“In these areas, Boko Haram and ISWAP are mainly able to “live off the land” through a variety of means, including kidnapping for ransom, extortion and taxation, raiding and controlling commercial activity.
The report stated that “As with other forms of illicit financial activity, the pervasive use of cash enables these groups’ funding. A study estimated ISWAP’s revenues, deemed larger than Boko Haram’s, at up to USD$36m annually, much of it from trading activity and taxation in the Lake Chad region.
“According to Nigerian authorities, both groups have also continued to mobilise, move and utilise funds through the formal financial and commercial system as well, accounting for a relatively small portion of TF activity. These groups also engage in international trafficking activities and as sworn adherents to the Islamic State, also have links with other regional and global terrorist networks.
“The authorities believe that any external support from ISIS Core may account for a small portion of ISWAP’s overall revenues. However, trade with broader criminal networks that could extend to regional jihadist organisations appears to generate significant income for both Boko Haram and ISWAP.”
The PUNCH Stated, quoting from the report stated that
“The Department of State Services, Nigeria’s lead counter-terrorism agency, has significant ability to identify and investigate TF activity. It conducts parallel financial investigations in conjunction with terrorism investigations. However, there is little evidence of the effectiveness of such efforts.
“The content of TF-related Suspicious Transactions Reports submitted to the NFIU (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit) has not been of demonstrable value, appearing to add little to Nigeria’s CFT (Combating the Financing of Terrorism) efforts. The agency maintained that Nigeria did not demonstrate effective legal and operational frameworks for seeking international cooperation, including for the recovery and repatriation of assets.
“Nigeria did not demonstrate that it prioritises and provides constructive information or assistance, including adequate, accurate and current basic and beneficial owner information of legal persons promptly.”