Editorial: The presidency should not shield Boko Haram sponsors

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In May, 2021, the Minister of Justice and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, told the nation that high profile Nigerians suspected to be sponsors of Boko Haram in the country have been arrested and the prosecution of the suspects would soon be underway. The development was came after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) named six Nigerians among 38 persons and entities with ties to insurgent group Boko Haram as terrorist financiers. The six persons have been tried and sentenced in the Arab country.

We wondered why the government has decided to treat the suspected sponsors as masquerades whose identity can only be known by the deities. For reasons we can only regard as flimsy, the AGF said revealing the suspected sponsors would jeopardise the ongoing investigation. He said any disclosure in that regards would have effect of “undermining the successes we are recording.” But from recent indications, it appears Nigerians are the only ones in the dark with regards to the list of sponsors of these dreaded terrorists that have for over a decade wrecked the socioeconomic activities and destroyed lives and properties in the North-East.

We wondered why the Federal Government have refused to take the proposition of the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, that her country is eager to partner with Nigeria on identifying Boko Haram sponsors. By refusing and foot-dragging on the gesture, what the government is simply implying is that there is more to it than Nigerians are expected to know. We hold that such posture is unhealthy for a just and fair dispensation of justice.

There are already insinuations that members of the current administration are active sponsors of the insurgents according to former intelligence officers. The daring revelation of former Navy Commodore, Tunde Olawunmi, on Channels Television, revealed that high ranking members of the current administration had in 2007-2008 being interrogated on the matter and culpable of involvement with the insurgents.

We are also alarmed by the reports of the Sahara Reporters, an online news medium, and if it is anything to go by, the little victory the country is gained in the fight against insurgents may just be a farce. The report alleged that 300 out of the 400 suspects arrested by the combined effort coordinated by 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), have been released based on the order of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

We are tempted to cling to the Independence Day national broadcast of President Buhari when he said his “government will continue, with greater level of peoples’ participation and in collaboration with our international partners, to improve the security architecture, reduce enabling environment for criminality to thrive and eliminate opportunities for terrorism financing.”

Aside from the death of the dreaded leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau in June, the arrest of the 400 suspected sponsors is the biggest boost in the fight against the terrorists, we hope the politics, corruption, nepotism and religious bias would not becloud the sense of national interest and allow for injustice to be perpetrated against Nigerians on this matter.

Naming and shaming the suspected sponsors would not in any way impede on the ongoing investigation but would rather help the public to be in the know and appreciate the efforts of the government. Nigeria would not be the first to adopt that measure. The United States of America, the United Arab Emirates and some other country across the world do not tight the lead on investigation. We recalled that the arrest of internet fraud syndicate in Dubai was videoed and posted on the internet for the world to see. More also, the revelations by Ramon Abbas being prosecuted and investigated are made public. We hope the Federal Government would toll this line in the interest of fairness, justice and progress of the country.

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