Six Nigerians have been accused of suspected Boko Haram funding by the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal.
The Daily Trust announced that two of the convicts, Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu, were sentenced to life imprisonment, while the remaining four were sentenced to 10 years in jail, respectively, by Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbdurRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa.
Allegedly, between 2015 and 2016, the convicts were involved in numerous cash transfers allegedly in favor of Boko Haram to the tune of USD782, 000.00, while their associates maintained that the transactions were for legitimate purposes.
Pursuant to Article 29, Clause 3 of UAE Federal Law No 7 of 2017 with respect to anti-terrorism law, engaging in such conduct is a felony.
It was further gathered that arrest warrants from the office of the National Security Bureau were issued against the accused after investigations “confirmed their involvement and membership of the Boko Haram” terror group in Nigeria, and transferring money for that group.
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, which is a crime under Article 31, Clause 1 of the same law, and is punishable by life imprisonment or jail for not less than five years under the UAE law.
The publication confirmed that two undercover Boko Haram agents who are based in Nigeria from where they orchestrated the funding transactions initiated almost all the transactions that landed the six Nigerians now in prison in the UAE.
One of them, reportedly based in Nigeria, Alhaji Sa’idu, is said to be a senior undercover member of Boko Haram who is responsible for facilitating the group’s access to its sponsors’ funds.
Alhaji Ashiru, who is said to be “a Nigerian government official” and still a senior undercover member of Boko Haram who facilitated the transfer of misappropriated public funds to the party, is also fingered in some of the transitions.
A source said;
I think Alhaji Sa’idu is just a Nom de guerre who used the victim’s gullibility to accomplish his goal. They were working in the office of change, collecting and sending money on behalf of others.
From what I understand, they have been doing business for a long time, and they have fallen into a pit along the way. I’m not siding with them or trying to indict them, but on their side, there’s typically ignorance.
However, Daily Trust families of the convicts said that their relatives were most likely misled in the course of their regular office of change transactions to the degree that some of the transactions they facilitated turned out to be for Boko Haram activities.
Auwalu Ali Alhassan, two of the convicts’ older brothers; Ibrahim Ali and Bashir Ali said that during the trial his siblings were not given a fair hearing, adding that attempts to get the Nigerian government to interfere proved abortive.
During the court case, there was no fair hearing; no witnesses were sentenced to ten years in prison (Ibrahim and Bashir) and those who supplied them with the money were sentenced to 25 years each. They were originally suspected of money laundering and little else but, along the way, the accusation moved to terrorism funding.
The case was appealed and the decision was nevertheless upheld. We reported back (here in Nigeria) to foreign affairs and they told us to wait until after the appeal.
“It was not to be. They were later charged with terrorism when they were brought to court, that those funds they raised were from individuals connected to a terrorist.
“We did not suspect our brothers of terrorism. The Ministry asked for inquiries to try to use diplomatic relations to secure their release as they were not convicted of terrorism and to seek UAE clarification of what was really happening. It was at that stage when the pandemic of COVID set in. To date, the details and court proceedings being pursued by the Nigerian government have not been given by the UAE government.
We have been to relevant sites, including the Ministry of Justice and the Commission of the Diaspora; no response (from the UAE) is still being reported to us. We even wrote an open letter to the President, published in some of the national newspapers, but without any positive developments. The boys are still detained in jail. We see the Nigerian government’s lack of interest in ensuring their release.
When contacted, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, said that the Nigerian government was aware of the matter and had written records of proceedings sought by the UAE, but had yet to obtain feedback.
Commenting on the claims of some of the convicts’ families that various government agencies, including the Ministry of Justice, failed to come to their aid, Malami said it was not true that there was nothing the Nigerian government did on the issue.
First of all, the Nigerian government has written copies of the proceedings, which would give us the opportunity to see whether justice has been done or not. And we asked whether they had committed the crime, to know who and who was involved, so that the Nigerian government would know what to do next.
The Nigerian government works, but it doesn’t have exclusive power, it has to depend on UAE data. So, the speed of response or action is not in charge of it.
“We are working both on the concerns that they were not given a fair hearing and that they were claimed to have assisted the activities of Boko Haram.”
Malami said of suspected undercover agents who are said to be on the ground;
Since the relationship includes money issues between Nigeria and the UAE, the Nigerian government has also ordered established government agencies to conduct an inquiry into that, and we have gone far.
“We await further UAE intelligence that is relevant to the conviction and trial in order to do what we can to take the next line of action as a follow-up.”