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Nigeria: Insecurity… Probe Terrorism Financing Now, Northern Elders, CSOs Tell Tinubu

In the wake of the persistent threat of terrorism in Nigeria and the recent revelation by Major General Danjuma Ali-Keffi (rtd) – that the plane crash which killed a former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, was caused by terrorism sponsors – President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been urged not to sweep the matter under the carpet.

In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP yesterday, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and several civil society organisations asked the president to probe Gen. Ali-Keffi’s assertions on the issue.

In its comments, NEF said, “The call by Major General Danjuma Ali-Keffi for President Bola Tinubu to investigate terrorism financing in the country was a justified and necessary step towards unraveling the truth behind the heinous acts of terrorism” in the country.

NEF director of publicity and advocacy/spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, who stated this yesterday in a chat with LEADERSHIP, highlighted the gravity of terrorism financing, describing it as the financial support that sustains terrorist organisations.

He stressed the need for a thorough investigation: “Investigating terrorism financing is crucial as it helps identify the root causes of terrorism and disrupts the flow of funds that sustain these extremist groups.”

On concerns raised by Ali-Keffi regarding terrorism sponsors within the military, Suleiman said Ali-Keffi’s assertion that terrorism sponsors with collaborators in the military were responsible for the death of Chief of Army Staff, Attahiru, also raises serious concerns.

He stressed the potential implications, saying if proven true, this would expose a deeply rooted problem within the military, which is compromising its ability to effectively combat terrorism.

The NEF spokesperson further noted that the alleged involvement of terrorism sponsors within the military not only undermines national security but also erodes public trust in the Armed Forces.

He called for a thorough investigation to hold those responsible accountable.

He said a thorough investigation was necessary to identify and hold accountable those responsible for such heinous acts.

“The killing of Attahiru was indeed a tragic loss for Nigeria. If there is any truth to the allegations made by Ali-Keffi, it is imperative that justice be served,” he said.

He underscored that the investigation into terrorism financing would not only shed light on the circumstances surrounding Attahiru’s death but also provide closure to his family, colleagues, and the Nigerian people.

He also stressed the need for accountability, adding that the government must ensure that those responsible for his death are held accountable, regardless of their position or influence.

“Given that in recent times, Nigeria has been grappling with the scourge of terrorism, which has claimed countless lives and destabilised the nation, the call by Major General Danjuma Ali-Keffi for President Tinubu to investigate terrorism financing in the country is a justified and necessary step towards unraveling the truth behind the heinous acts of terrorism.

“Terrorism financing refers to the financial support provided to terrorist organisations, enabling them to carry out their nefarious activities.

“This support can come from various sources, including individuals, organisations, and even state actors. Investigating terrorism financing is crucial as it helps identify the root causes of terrorism and disrupts the flow of funds that sustain these extremist groups. By probing terrorism financing, Nigeria can effectively dismantle the networks that perpetuate violence and restore peace and security to its citizens.

He pointed that the alleged involvement of terrorism sponsors within the military not only undermines national security but also erodes public trust in the armed forces.

“The killing of Attahiru was indeed a tragic loss for Nigeria. If there is any truth to the allegations made by Ali-Keffi, it is imperative that justice be served.

“The investigation into terrorism financing would not only shed light on the circumstances surrounding Attahiru’s death but also provide closure to his family, colleagues, and the Nigerian people. Government must ensure that those responsible for his death are held accountable, regardless of their position or influence,” he said.

To the CSOs, the probe of the crash and the alleged sponsors would help the security agencies to fight terrorism effectively.

The CSOs have also asked the president to release the report of the plane crash that killed the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen Ibrahim Attahiru.

Attahiru, who was a chief of army staff (COAS), was killed on May 21, 2021 along with 11 other senior military officers in a crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) plane few minutes to landing at Kaduna airport after they took off from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,

A few days ago, a former GOC 1 Division, Kaduna, Major-Gen Ali-Keffi recalled his death while talking about terrorism financing.

Ali-Keffi said President Tinubu should probe terrorism financing in the country, alleging that terrorism sponsors with collaborators in the military killed late chief of army staff, Attahiru.

Meanwhile, civil society orgainsations have begun a campaign to pressure the Nigerian government to investigate terrorism financiers adding that the previous administration promised to name terrorist financiers but failed.

The CSOs who spoke to LEADERSHIP are: Transparency International (TI), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said that if Tinubu does not probe terrorism financing, it would mean that such an act would become institutionalised.

“The truth is that terrorism is affecting Nigeria negatively. Previous administrations spent over $20 billion to deal with Boko Haram but nothing tangible has been achieved.

“The former Chief of Army staff was dealing with terrorists and everyone knows about this. Even when he became the COAS, his record was good in dealing with terrorists and their sponsors. But they ganged up and killed him,” the CSOs said, while calling on Tinubu to make investigating terrorist sponsors a priority.

The CSOs also said that all reports concerning the killing of the chief of army staff should be made public.

“The Accident Investigation Bureau submitted their investigation report to the former Chief of the Air Staff when the crash happened. Nigerians didn’t hear of anything tangible till this day.

“President Tinubu must investigate that incident again and the report should be made public. There is no way a whole Chief of Army Staff can be eliminated in the conspiracy of terrorism and nothing is done about it.

“Terrorism financiers must be investigated and if found guilty they must be punished,” Rafsanjani said.

“We are in support of Tinubu to carry out a serious security investigation concerning the death of the former Chief of Army Staff. We can’t be losing such people and no credible information is given on the causes of the death.

“Every aircraft has a black box. The black box gives details of what happened if an aircraft crashes. The black box will give details on what killed him.

“President Tinubu should ensure that the report of that incident is out and people that are found culpable should be punished,” Rafsanjani added.

Also, the director of legal affairs of the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Barr. Abdulmalik Alfa, said, “We are in support of the probe because all efforts to combat insecurity are yielding no positive result.”

Alfa, who stated this in a chat with LEADERSHIP yesterday, also issued a strong warning.

“The leadership of Northern Youth Council of Nigeria, which I represent, is watching as events unfold. Any attempt to sweep these weighty allegations under the carpet will be resisted through lawful means.”

Citing the revelations by Gen. Ali Keffi, Alfa called for swift action.

On his part, the national coordinator, Campaign Against Impunity in Nigeria, Comrade Shina Loremikan said drastic measures must be taken by the present government to end terrorism financing in the country.

He said, “In a situation like this, those who know more engage in self -censorship; they try to keep the information to themselves but, unfortunately, with time what has been hidden they find out the alleged act is out. Wwe know what the Nigerian army was in the 70s and in the 60s and we know what the Nigeria army is today; even when they are going for operations, those who are not supposed to know their operational plan already have it.

“The reality of it is that the people in government today know the ABC of the problem and they know the XYZ solution to it, but they don’t have the moral strength to say it must come to an end.’

Army Keeps Mum On Gen Ali-Keffi’s Allegation

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has declined to comment on the allegations by Ali-Keffi that the plane crash which killed Lt.-Gen. Attahiru was linked to terrorism sponsors.

The director of Army Public Relations, Major General Onyema Nwachukwu, said the petition was directed to the president, hence the Army Headquarters would not respond to the issues raised.

He said, “The letter was written to the president. He wrote the petition to the president. He didn’t write to Army Headquarters; he rather wrote to the president so I believe the presidency will attend to it. We have not received anything from him, so it’s not for me to react.”

Gen. Ali-Keffi, who was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army when the incident happened on May 21 2021, lamented that the late army chief and 11 senior officers died in a suspicious plane crash and the matter was swept under the carpet, as the full report of the crash investigation was not made known.

He called on Tinubu to probe the air crash that killed Attahiru.

The retired general had written to the president requesting a review of the investigation to ascertain the true cause of the crash.

Ali-Keffi, who was billed to receive the late army chief, as GOC 1 Division in Kaduna, pointed to the sudden change of time for Attahiru’s trip to Kaduna, the change of aircraft, change of airport of landing, from the military airstrip to the Kaduna International Airport, his landing in a turbulent, stormy weather, and the ear-shattering explosion that occurred before the crash.

Ali-Keffi said Attahiru devised the strategy to end terrorism in the North, part of which was infiltration of terror groups and the instigation of crisis among terror leaders. The strategy culminated in the elimination of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, by a rival terror group, Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP).

He said part of the strategy was to also cut off the oxygen of terrorism, including funding and logistics, and to take down terror financiers, Ali-Keffi stated.

Attahiru and 11 senior military officers died in a plane crash in Kaduna, when the aircraft was preparing to land at the Kaduna International Airport. The crash also killed the crew members.

He also pointed to the fact that there was no crater or impact on the crash area, noting that the bodies of the passengers were flung out of the aircraft and burnt beyond recognition long before the aircraft came down, a strong indication that there was an explosion.

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