FG’s incomplete list of terrorists financiers

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By Jonathan Ishaku
The news that a serving minister is distributing palliatives, in the form of foodstuff, to selected terrorist groups in Zamfara state wasn’t exactly surprising.
From what I have observed in counterterrorism in Nigeria, such ambiguity has always been the pattern.
Didn’t a serving governor in this country openly tell the media that he distributed undisclosed funds to some Fulani non-state armed groups, on coming to power?
And we all knew it was clearly a violation of the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing (AML/CTF) law which Nigeria promulgated in 2012 as a member of the 180- member strong global Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) and also the 2011 Nigerian Terrorism Prevention Act (TPA), the nation’s antiterrorism law? (Read more: Ishaku, J. Boko Haram & Armed Herdsmen Violence, pp. 130-142).
But he was never questioned by the State Security Service. Rather, it was late Dr. Obed Mailafiya, the indefatigable public intellectual, who was hunted and tossed into jail for alleging that a serving governor was financing terrorism!
Yet, former President Muhammadu Buhari had no courage to publish the names of suspected terrorist financiers and sponsors as the Bola Tinubu administration has done.
While applauding the action, I must hasten to say that a lot more is still desired: the above mentioned ex-governor’s name and a lot more names that Nigerians know are deeply involved with terrorism sponsorship are missing from the list, including those in his cabinet! All the government needs to do is conduct the investigation in a professional manner without favourites or sacred cows.
This should begin even closer at home as his minister Bello Matawalle’s case, which, when proven, has become too obvious.
In the report by The Mail, it was revealed that on March 17, 2024, the minister, through one Hon. Musa Bawa Yankuzo, delivered 50 bags of rice to the notorious terrorist kingpin, Ado Aliero.
This is a serious embarrassment to the Tinubu government worse than the case of Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs!
We know that both national and international laws categorize all forms of assistance, financial and material, to terrorists as complicity in the act.
By this act, Bello Matawalle has proven, if investigations confirm it, that he is on the list of terrorist financiers!
Howbeit, the Tinubu administration ought to investigate the relationship between, Bello Matawalle, his minister and this terrorist henchman, Ado Aliero.
It is an interesting anecdote that while the latter was at the height of his notoriety as a terrorist, he was turbaned as the Sarkin Fulani of Yandoton Daji (Tsafe LGA of Zamfara), in a lavish ceremony and all under the watch of Bello Matawalle as Governor of Zamfara State!
Last year, the current governor of Zamfara state, Dauda Lawal, raised alarm that he was in receipt of reports suggesting that some federal government agencies were negotiating with some terrorists in the state behind his back! (Premium Time, Sept 25, 2023). Of course, all fingers pointed to Bello Matawalle, the incorrigible bandit sympathizer who, throughout his tenure as governor of Zamfara state defended negotiations with the bandits.
See the following newspaper headlines, for example :
* “No regret negotiating with bandits -/Zamfara governor, ” Premium Times, July 5, 2020
* “We must negotiate with Bandits for peace to reign – Matawalle,” Daily Trust, Feb. 2021
* “Why we must negotiate with terrorist,”/Punch, April 2, 2021.
Surely, President Bola Tinubu’s scouts must have unearthed this penchant in Bello before his selection for the job?
Unfortunately, the federal government’s reaction to Governor Lawal’s allegation, through the Information minister (Mohammed Idris) was to ask him to stop playing politics with security, rather than order the security establishment (Office of the National Security Adviser – ONSA) to investigate the governor’s allegation to determine the truth and motive.
Now it has a harder nut to crack: The President must explain how his Minister of Defense, in charge of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (Army, Air Force and Navy) as well as Defense Intelligence, now catering for the welfare of terrorists and bandits, intends to fight them to keep the nation safe and secure?

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