Federal government of Nigeria has reportedly arrested about 400 businessmen for allegedly funding Boko Haram insurgents and bandits in Nigeria.
For over a decade, there has not been a clear information on the financial sponsors of Boko Haram.
According to Daily Trust, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) arrested the suspected businessmen.
Reports say President Muhammadu Buhari approved the operation in 2020.
The dailies reported that an initial list of 957 suspects comprising bureau de change (BDC) operators, gold miners and sellers, and other businessmen is being acted upon.
The newspaper, however, reported that about 400 persons have been arrested in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara.
Some of those arrested include a gold dealer, Muhammad Lawan Sani; BDC operators, Baba Usaini, Abubakar Yellow (Amfani), Yusuf Ali Yusuf (Babangida), Ibrahim Shani and Auwal Fagge.
A source told Daily Trust that those arrested are reportedly being kept in military and DSS facilities in Abuja and other places;
“Because this is economic warfare against the insurgents and other militant groups, the president, when approving the operation directed that the NFIU take the lead as the country’s financial intelligence powerhouse.”
The source added that “with the presidential approval, a task team was composed of personally selected senior officers who were deployed under the DIA to carry out the special assignment”.
“The main person coordinating the funding ring for Boko Haram is in our custody, he and his closest ally in the business.”
The dailies quoted another source who said about 19 BDCs owned by persons with “direct connection with Boko Haram” were uncovered, while over N300 billion was found to have been used in funding terrorism.
The source said over N50 billion were traced in funding to the armed groups, apart from one person in Borno and another in Zaria, Kaduna state.
“A number of those arrested have divulged vital information including operational details of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents. But they are being kept to aid further arrests.”
Family members of those arrested have reportedly been calling on the government for their release.
Recall that six Nigerians were also jailed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for allegedly funding Boko Haram in 2020.
The Army spokesperson, Mohammed Yerima, was not immediately available to comment on the development.