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KonkNaija Media | May 4, 2016

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Boko Haram: Operatives Track Bank Accounts of Governors, Embassies

Boko Haram: Operatives Track Bank Accounts of Governors, Embassies

| On 12, Mar 2014

In its effort at tracking the source of funding for the activities of the dreaded members of Islamic sect, Boko Haram, operatives of the State Security Service, (SSS) and other related agencies are allegedly on the trail of bank accounts of Nigerian embassies, top political office holders among others.  A top security agent had hinted our correspondent at the weekend.

The source said the move is to uncover those behind the funding of terrorist activities in Nigeria. “The accounts of foreign agencies, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and other high net worth individuals in the country have come under our searchlight and this is done in collaboration with banks and other related financial institutions.”

It was gathered that security agencies categorised politically exposed persons as individuals entrusted with prominent public offices in Nigeria or foreign embassies and officials as well as their close associates.

Also included in the surveillance list are former heads of state, state governors, local government chairmen, senior government and party officials and their family members, ex-local government chairmen, ex-senior government officials and their counterparts in the judiciary.

It was learnt that the account surveillance began late 2013 as part of security strategies to check funding of terrorist and other criminal activities in the country, “and that it was based on the Central Bank’s risk-based supervision framework.”

The security source told our correspondent that special attention was being given to some embassies or foreign consulate accounts as they posed a higher risk in terms of terrorism financing.

Security operatives are expected to file reports on their monthly transactions and report same to the CBN and the relevant security agencies.

The banks are also said to be directed to pay special attention to accounts where substantial currency transactions take place, especially if they involve countries categorised as high risk, such as Iran, Mauritania, Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other   nations associated with violent Islamic groups.

Some Nigerians involved in terror-related activities are believed to have been trained in Yemen, Pakistan, Mali, Mauritania and others.

A security source said, “Banks are expected to ‘red flag’ accounts belonging to certain embassies or politically exposed persons like governors especially if the activities in the account are not consistent with the purpose of the account.

“Ongoing monitoring of embassy and foreign consulate account relationships is critical to ensuring that the account relationships are being used as expected.”

It was also learnt that prepaid credit/debit cards had been identified by security agencies as a source of funding considering the ease with which false identification can be used to obtain the cards and illicit cash loaded unto them. Sources say that such card holders usually send money to their accomplices both within and outside the country for their illegal activities.

“Investigations have shown that prepaid cards were being used as illegal cash transfer point by criminal-minded individuals on account of the anonymity of the cardholders, fictitious cardholders information, easy cash access of the card and the huge volume of funds that could be transacted on the card.”

It was also gathered that the fact that credit card can easily be used and reloaded from any geographical point that has an ATM machine makes it the preferred tool for money laundering.

It was also learnt that each bank was required to submit the financial transactions of at least 50 of its most active customers who must include PEPs, private investment companies, Non-Governmental Organisations, consulate accounts, brokers, and anyone with access to government assets.

The State Security Service, police and Immigration Service are also said to be investigating the nationals of some countries tagged as ‘sponsors of terrorism’.

However, the Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, denied knowledge of such accounts being placed on surveillance.

He said, “This is news to me, I am hearing it for the first time from you.”

The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba said the police were doing everything possible to check terrorism, as he stressed that the Force was deploying every necessary strategy to check crimes in the country.

“I won’t say the police are working with banks to monitor every bank account, but we are actively deploying our strategies in checking terrorism by cutting off their sources of funding,” he stated.  It would be recalled that security agents have been on the trail of three different foreign-sponsors of terror cells in Nigeria.

A senior security official had identified the sponsors of the terror cells as being resident in Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The terror cells were similar to the Iranian cell uncovered by the State Security Service last month.

The SSS had also paraded a leader of an Islamic sect, Abdullahi Berende, and two others said to be members of the Iranian terror cell gathering information about Israelis and Americans living in Nigeria.

Fifty-year-old Berende, Sulaiman Saka and Saheed Adewunmi, were said to be working for Iranian terrorists planning to attack Americans and Israelis in the country. A third suspect, Bunyamin Yusuf, is said to be at large.

However, Iran denied the allegations by Nigeria that it had trained militants arrested in Nigeria alleged to be planning attacks on US and Israeli targets in the country.

An official of the Foreign Ministry had said that such allegations were “made up as the result of the ill will of the enemies of the two countries’ good relations.”

“Iran and Nigeria have friendly and close relations, and despite the vast efforts of the two countries’ enemies in recent years, relations and co-operations have always improved,” he said.

- Nigerian Political Economist

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