A Tenner For Terror

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Former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd)

Boko Haram Chokes North’s Elites For Funds, Politicians, Civil Servants, Companies Pay Protection Fee to Sect.

 Boko Haram insurgents currently active in parts of the North may have turned to big-time extortion – the favourite means of raising funds among mobsters and allied organised criminals – to fund and support their terror campaigns in recent times,The Dream Daily can reveal.

As the global clampdown on the sect’s assets bites hard, the terror group has increasingly turn inwards for financial and material support from the influential and the wealthy in its main base – Northern Nigeria. According to impeccable sources – including victims – elected public officers, top civil servants, thriving businesses in the region, well placed technocrats and other professionals of northern origins are daily receiving cold calls demanding that they fund the insurgency “in the interest of the North” or risk personal dangers and economic sabotage.

Many northerners, The Dream Daily learned, are quietly making this payment on demand by the terrorists, in essence buying protection for themselves, relations, business and other assets. Some who refused have been attacked while a handful of non-conformists now constantly look over their shoulders for the insurgency’s enforcers.

However, The Dream Daily has learned that “freelance criminal elements are also cashing in on the Boko Haram franchise to extort the unwary across the North and beyond.”

But individual and corporate victims, who are reeling under this unexpected financial burden, are unwilling to go to the authorities either out of the fear of being arrested as a bona fide financiers of terror in the country, or being found out by the Boko Haram group itself and then summarily dealt with.

The Dreaded Cold Call Or Nocturnal Visit

The road to being ensnared in the Boko Haram extortion ring often starts with a phone call from one of the sect’s “fundraisers” who would calmly introduce himself to the target and lay the demands, which could be financial or material, or both. The sect members could also calmly hold up a wealthy household, in the dead of the night, after placing it under surveillance to be sure that the man of the house was around.

Recently, a serving judicial officer in one of the states under emergency rule received such a nocturnal visit from the insurgents who scaled the high perimeter fence around his home. Stressing that they came in peace and meant no harm if nobody resisted the invasion, the heavily armed men told the victim of their mission.

Having evidently done their homework well, they told the victim the exact millions he had in his account with a first-generation bank in town and demanded part of it. They also informed their shocked victim the population of the livestock on his farm and asked to take some. Bizarrely, they took a cheque of the amount they wanted from the victim and cashed it some days later. They also went to his farm and rustled the exact number of livestock they agreed with the victim.(There are claims that many of the cow rustling that took place in the North in recent times were a ruse for material payments to the insurgents.)

Fearing for his life and those of his family members, the victim and his relations fled the state.

In another demonstration of the sect’s surveillance expertise and reach, another victim – a political office holder – who took to flight instead of taking an agreed sum to a drop zone was later called on his phone and informed of his hotel hideout, including the colour of the bed sheet in the hotel room. He apologised profusely and frantically went to drop the cash at the agreed spot.

Amnesty For Terror Financiers?

While Boko Haram has apparently enjoyed grassroots support in parts of the North and there exists many closet admirers of the group who knowingly support it financially and otherwise, many northerners who continue to ‘donate’ cash and materials to the sect are unwilling donors cowed into supporting terror, The Dream Daily has found out.

“This is understandably, if you ask me,” says a security expert who does not want his name in print. He continues: “Survival is the first law of nature and I could say that many elites in the north are not for Boko Haram but they cannot come out to say so for fear of being targeted. Some of those who even speak up do so tongue in cheek; it is that serious. We must admit that the sect has created a climate of fear in the country and that, like President Goodluck Jonathan said sometimes ago, they are in places you would not expect and most people, especially northerners from the epicentre of the insurgency, are being careful.

“Caution is the game even in security circles. At many security meetings, some northerners are very cautious in making inputs. They would merely shake their heads and mumble; they are afraid to talk because they don’t know who is who and that what they say might filter out to the terrorists. That is one of the challenges in the on-going war against terror.

“However, government needs to move and plug this fresh funding hole against the insurgency. It is very important to switch off the funding pipes for terrorists. This needs no explaining really, I mean, no fund is no show; they won’t be able to buy arms and other supplies without funds. This would force them to take to other ways like looting or even robbery, which are more open and can be better dealt with better by security agencies. My suggestion is that government should initiate a clandestine platform for anyone who had paid or is still paying protection fee to any criminal group in the country, including Boko Haram, to come forward and disclose the whole thing. This could be done as part of the NSA’s soft-approach to combating the insurgency,” the security expert stresses.

Protect Yourself:

Don’t pick a ‘No Number’ call

Keep a low profile, always

Avoid exhibitionism by way of flamboyant dressing, spending spree, lavish parties, etc.

Avoid discussing money on phone in a loud voice, anywhere

Keep your bank account details to yourself or trusted aides only

Inform law enforcement agents if anyone calls/writes to demand cash or materials from you or your business

Relocate your family, business, if possible.

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