THE Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money
Laundering in West Africa, established by the Economic
Community of West African States, says Boko Haram splinter
group, Islamic State West Africa Province, moved about
N18bn ($36m) generated from trading and taxing
communities in the Lake Chad region through the Nigerian
financial system annually.
The group, set up by ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State
and Government in 2000, stated that both Boko Haram and
ISWAP had continued to mobilise, move and utilise funds
through the nation’s formal financial and commercial system.
It noted that the government lacked adequate insight into
Boko Haram and ISWAP international linkages and abuse of
the formal financial and commercial sectors.
It said even though the Department of State Services had
significant ability to identify and investigate terrorist financing
activity, and that it even conducts parallel financial and
terrorism investigation, there was little evidence of the
effectiveness of such efforts.
The group, known as GIABA, stated these in its 2021 Mutual
Evaluation Report, where it also noted that Nigeria lacked an
explicit policy to confiscate proceeds of crime or property of
equivalent value, including terrorism financing.
It also said the Nigerian government, led by the President,
Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), failed to
confiscate the assets of terrorists as stipulated in the global
anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing
Nigeria has been battling Boko Haram insurgency for about
12 years, during which thousands have been killed, including
civilians and soldiers; several persons, including
schoolchildren and women, were kidnapped with many still in
captivity while millions have been displaced.
Meanwhile, the GIABA report was adopted by the global
financial intelligence agency, Financial Action Task Force,
whose recommendations help authorities to go after the
money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking
and other crimes.
The report stated, “Boko Haram/ISWAP pose significant TF
(Terrorist Financing) risks that are challenging to disrupt,
operating in large part outside the formal financial and
commercial system in the conflict zone.
“In these areas, Boko Haram and ISWAP are mainly able to
“live off the land” through a variety of means, including
kidnapping for ransom, extortion and taxation, raiding and
controlling commercial activity.
“As with other forms of illicit financial activity, the pervasive
use of cash enables these groups’ funding. A study estimated
ISWAP’s revenues, deemed larger than Boko Haram’s, at up
to USD$36m annually, much of it from trading activity and
taxation in the Lake Chad region.
“According to Nigerian authorities, both groups have also
continued to mobilise, move and utilise funds through the
formal financial and commercial system as well, accounting
for a relatively small portion of TF activity. These groups also
engage in international trafficking activities and as sworn
adherents to the Islamic State, also have links with other
regional and global terrorist networks.
“The authorities believe that any external support from ISIS
Core may account for a small portion of ISWAP’s overall
revenues. However, trade with broader criminal networks that
could extend to regional jihadist organisations appears to
generate significant income for both Boko Haram and
The Financial Action Task Force assessment noted that the
Nigerian authorities did not prioritise terrorism financing
investigations, as there were only a few terrorist financing
prosecutions and convictions, which do not reflect the
country’s risk profile in terrorist financing.
Notably, no individual, body or corporation has been
convicted in Nigeria for funding terrorism since the
insurgency started in 2009.
The Task Force said in the assessment, “Nigeria has a
significant but incomplete understanding of its TF (terrorist
financing) threats and risks. It lacks adequate insight into
Boko/ISWAP’s international linkages and abuse of the formal
financial and commercial sector. The authorities do not
prioritise TF investigations, as there are only a few TF
prosecutions and convictions which do not reflect Nigeria’s
TF risk profile.
“The Department of State Services, Nigeria’s lead counter-
terrorism agency, has significant ability to identify and
investigate TF activity. It conducts parallel financial
investigations in conjunction with terrorism investigations.
However, there is little evidence of the effectiveness of such
“The content of TF-related Suspicious Transactions Reports
submitted to the NFIU (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit)
has not been of demonstrable value, appearing to add little to
Nigeria’s CFT (Combating the Financing of Terrorism) efforts.
The agency maintained that Nigeria did not demonstrate
effective legal and operational frameworks for seeking
international cooperation, including for the recovery and
repatriation of assets.
“Nigeria did not demonstrate that it prioritises and provides
constructive information or assistance, including adequate,
accurate and current basic and beneficial owner information
of legal persons promptly.”
It noted that the nation recently enacted the Mutual Legal
Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, 2019 to streamline
processes for mutual legal assistance
The financial task force observed that the larger commercial
banks and those affiliated with international groups have a
good understanding of money laundering and terrorism
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence
Agency and others coordinate; they exchange intelligence
and that is why they could track down Osama bin Laden.
Here, the DSS wants to receive public applause, the police,
the same thing; the ICPC is not cooperating with the EFCC.
These are the problems we are having. Until they collaborate,
the situation will not change.” ,