Six Nigerian nationals have been convicted by a court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over their alleged funding of Boko Haram insurgents.
In a report by Daily Trust, two of the convicts identified as Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu were sentenced to life imprisonment while the remaining four, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbdurRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa were handed ten-year imprisonment respectively.
Court papers revealed that the convicts were reportedly involved in different cash transfers allegedly in favour of Boko Haram to the tune of USD782, 000.00 between 2015 and 2016, even though their associates insisted that the transactions were for legitimate purposes.
They were apprehended between April 16 and 17, 2017, and their homes searched according to the search warrant issued by the National Security Prosecution office dated April 16, 2017.
While the first and second accused were said to have been charged for joining the Boko Haram group in Nigeria knowingly, which is a crime punishable under Article 22/2 of the Federal Law No 7 of 2017 with regards to anti-terrorism punishable by death or life imprisonment, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth accused were charged with assisting the terror group knowingly.
The report revealed that almost all the transactions that landed the six Nigerians now in jail in the UAE were initiated by two undercover Boko Haram agents who are based in Nigeria from where they were facilitating the funding transactions.
One of them, Alhaji Sa’idu who is allegedly based in Nigeria, is said to be a senior undercover Boko Haram member responsible for facilitating the group’s access to funds from its sponsors.
Also fingered in some of the transitions was one Alhaji Ashiru, who is said to be “a Nigerian government official” and yet a senior undercover Boko Haram member who facilitated the transfer of misappropriated public funds to the group.
A source said; “I think Alhaji Sa’idu is just Nom de guerre who used the gullibility of the victims to achieve his aim. They were into bureau de change business, receiving and sending monies on behalf of others.
“From what I understand, they have been doing the business for long and along the line, they fell into a trap. I am not siding with them or trying to indict them but generally, there is ignorance on their side.”
Families of the convicts however told Daily Trust that their relatives were most likely deceived in the course of their routine bureau de change transactions to the extent that some of the transactions they facilitated turned out to be for proceeds meant for Boko Haram activities.
Auwalu Ali Alhassan, an elder brother to two of the convicts; Ibrahim Ali and Bashir Ali said his siblings were not given a fair hearing during the trial, adding that efforts to get the Nigerian government to intervene proved abortive.
Alhassan said; “There was no fair hearing during the court case; no witnesses and they were just convicted to ten years in prison (Ibrahim and Bashir) and those that provided them with the monies were sentenced to 25 years each. They were earlier accused of money laundering and nothing more but along the line, the charge changed to financing terrorism.
“The case was appealed and still the ruling was upheld. We reported back to foreign affairs (here in Nigeria) and they advised us to wait till after the appeal.
“This wasn’t to be. After they were taken to court they were later charged with terrorism, that those monies they collected were from people linked with a terrorist.
“Our brothers were not accused of terrorism. The ministry requested inquiries trying to use diplomatic relations to secure their release since they were not convicted of terrorism and to seek an explanation from the UAE of what really happened. It was at that point when the COVID pandemic sets in. Till date, the government of the UAE has not provided the information and court proceedings being sought by the Nigerian government.
“We have been to relevant places including the Ministry of Justice and the Diaspora Commission; they keep telling us no response (from the UAE). We even wrote an open letter to the president, which was published in some national dailies but no positive development. The boys are still being held in prison. We are seeing lack of interest from the Nigerian government to secure their release.”
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