Gumi faults FG’s list of terror financiers, says no Nigerian funds terrorism

CONTROVERSIAL Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi has raised objections to the recent list of terror financiers released by the Federal Government.

He said no Nigerian was involved in financing terrorism.

Gumi, in an X space organised by Daily Trust, on Thursday, March 21, criticised the government’s approach, noting that the security agencies had no right to label anyone a terrorist financier.

The Federal government had, on Wednesday, March 20, named 15 entities, including nine individuals and six BDC operators and firms, for alleged involvement in terrorism financing.

It said details of the development were contained in a document revealed by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

Among the individuals named in the document was Gumi’s spokesperson and Kaduna-based publisher, Tukur Mamu.

According to the report, Mamu “participated in the financing of terrorism by receiving and delivering ransom payments over the sum of $200,000 US in support of ISWAP terrorists for the release of hostages of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack.”

Mamu, the publisher of Desert Herald Newspaper, was arrested by Interpol while in the company of his two wives and one other person as they awaited a connecting flight to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj in September 2022.

The Egyptian authorities arrested him based on a request by the Nigerian government. The State Security Service (SSS) subsequently picked him up at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano on his repatriation to Nigeria.

Although Mamu led negotiations for the release of passengers abducted on the Abuja-Kaduna train, he was alleged to have been working for the terrorists that masterminded the abduction of the train passengers. 

Reacting to the government’s decision naming him and others as terrorists’ financier on Thursday, Gumi claimed that no Nigerian would finance terrorism.

He argued that terrorists sustain their activities through funds acquired from ransom payments made by the families of kidnapped victims.

“No Nigerian will put his money into terrorism. We’re beyond that. These people are financing themselves by taking our children for ransom.

“So, how can we say some people are financing terrorism because there is a misunderstanding between them?” the cleric queried.

According to him, it’s ‘rubbish’ for the government to frame its political opposition as terror financiers.

Speaking on the alleged involvement of Mamu in terrorism, Gumi said the embattled publisher should face punishment if proven guilty both in a court of law and in the court of public opinion.

“Mamu’s case is in the court. Let’s wait to hear from the court. It’s wrong to resort to media trial. Let’s wait for the court to state if he is a financier or not. I think if he is acquitted, he has a strong case to make on libel.

“Who declares someone a terrorist financer? Is it the court of law or a security agency? The security agency has no right to declare anyone a terrorist financier. The case is already in court, so why are they judging him on the pages of the newspaper? Once a case is in court, you allow the court to decide,” he added.

The ICIR reported how the controversial cleric appealed to the Federal Government to dialogue with the bandits who abducted school children in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State as a way of rescuing the students.

On Thursday, March 7, this organisation reported how gunmen invaded a school in Kaduna State and reportedly kidnapped about 287 children, alongside some staff.




     

     

    Gumi also asked Tinubu to allow him to lead the dialogue.

    Before his Thursday’s position, the Federal Government terror financiers list had sparked a wave of reactions among civil society organisations and other Nigerians, with some voicing concern over the procedures of coming out with such a list while many criticised the ‘apologists’ for allegedly sympathising with armed groups and downplaying the severity of the terrorism threat facing Nigeria.

    In its position, the National Treasurer of the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Gbadamosi Moh-Murtala, said terrorism financing had been a known issue but that it was worrisome that anyone on the street exchanging dollars is regarded as a BDC operator who could be viewed as a potential terrorist sponsor.

    He said for the Federal Government to have named them meant it had evidence at its disposal.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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