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Lesson from UAE on counterterrorism strategy

In April 2019, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal convicted six Nigerians  over the funding of Boko Haram terrorist group. The accused were tried…

In April 2019, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal convicted six Nigerians  over the funding of Boko Haram terrorist group. The accused were tried and sentenced before a court of competent jurisdiction for the transfer of almost $800,000 from Dubai to Nigeria to facilitate and aid the Boko Haram terrorists’ operations. 

While the court found the accused guilty of setting up a Boko Haram cell in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to raise funds and material assistance for the insurgents in Nigeria, the convicts appealed their conviction in the UAE Federal Supreme Court but the appeal was turned down by the apex court in December 2019.

With the UAE’s thorough investigation on this terrorist financing allegation and prompt prosecution of the culprits, the country’s authorities have indirectly sent a stern signal of their zero and intolerant stance against insurgency to all and sundry. If the convicts  could face trial for sponsoring terrorism outside the shores of UAE, it is easier to predict the horrible fate that awaits whoever perpetrates any iota of terrorist acts on UAE territory.

It is unfortunate that Nigerian authorities have not deemed it fit to emulate the UAE’s rapid response and tactical approach to counterterrorism. Rather, the national debate among government officials so far revolves around the modus operandi of negotiating with terrorists and incessant threats against unnamed financiers of terrorism.

A 2020 report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that insurgency-related conflicts had claimed the lives of almost 350,000 people in the North East. Numerous invaluable private and public properties have also been lost to terrorism.

The sincerity and readiness of Nigerian government in the fight against terrorism is questionable. No nation can totally overcome or curb the menace of terrorism without identifying and sanctioning its financiers. One of the most effective counterterrorism strategies is to dismantle the network behind insurgency. A notorious terrorist recently apprehended in Sokoto State narrated how he purchased N28.5 million gun truck for his terrorist operations.

The confession reaffirms that any war on terrorism without locating and breaking its financial channels is a facade. The havoc being wrecked on Nigerians by these terrorists would continue with their financial strength to purchase sophisticated weapons. Both the Nigerian security apparatus and the terrorist foot soldiers have unlimited access to heavy weapons. The  government’s policy of purchasing more military warfare can’t defeat terrorism until its counterterrorism strategy adopts and prioritises the utter decimation of terrorist life support machine (financing).

Binzak Azeez sent this piece from Onikan, Lagos

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