THE recent conviction of some Nigerians living in the United Arab Emirates, UAE, for funding Boko Haram Islamist terrorism came as cheering news to well-meaning Nigerians. We are not used to achieving similar results in Nigeria since the insurgency started eleven years ago.
The convicts bagged sentences ranging from life imprisonment to ten years behind bars for facilitating the funnelling of funds worth $782,000 (about N361bn at the current BDC exchange rate) between 2015 and 2016 to terror groups in Nigeria in contravention of UAE’s Federal Law.
Reports indicated that in addition to the Dubai-based financiers, there are other named undercover operatives based in Nigeria canvassing funds for terrorists.
One of them, simply named “Alhaji Ashiru” was nebulously referred to as “a Nigerian government official”. Former President Goodluck Jonathan had openly lamented: “there is Boko Haram in my government”.
Apart from directly funding activities of terrorists, these sleeper cell agents of terror also engage in a lot of black market activities and active recruitment of fighters for Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa, Al Qaeda and other terror groups not only in the North East but also throughout the North.
Some of them even operate interest-free microfinance banks to entice the poor and unemployed young people to embrace their cause.
It is saddening that what our legal system is unable or unwilling to do to bring our criminals, terrorists and looters to book, it is always foreign countries that are doing them for us.
Nigerians continue to observe with dismay, the tendency of the Federal Government to handle captured terrorists with kid gloves. For instance, the fate of Kabiru Sokoto, the Boko Haram member who masterminded the bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State on Christmas Day, 2011, remains shrouded in mystery.
A rumour of his “release” in September 2018 was swiftly debunked by the Nigerian Prisons. However, less mysterious is the controversial deradicalisation programme for captured or “repented” terrorists.
This programme has seen to the release of over 5,000 former Boko Haram fighters back to the civilian populace, often in spite of stiff opposition by their various communities.
Nigerians see more of this than any serious effort to bring them to book in the exemplary manner that the UAE, which is part of the Arabian Peninsula, from where Islam originated, has done.
We commend the UAE, one of the most modern Islamic countries, for setting a good example which we must emulate. We need to fight terrorism head-on, otherwise they will overwhelm us.
People who have killed innocent citizens, destroyed property, displaced communities, abducted women and girls and beheaded their captives on live videos, must be made to pay a deep price.