IPOB, bandits funding terrorism through crowdfunding, betting platforms – NFIU

By Abiodun Sanusi

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit has exposed the alleged funding of terrorist activities in Nigeria by the Indigenous People of Biafra, bandits, and other terror groups through global crowdfunding and on sports betting platforms.

The financial intelligence unit revealed how IPOB received funds through affiliates in 22 countries that have registered at least 27 entities under the group’s name.

The NFIU noted that seven of the registrations were made in the United States, while six were in the United Kingdom.

It added that over $160,000 raised by IPOB through crowd-funding was funnelled to transmission, media and broadcasting companies in Bulgaria, South Africa, and the UK.

It added that “The analysis further indicates that the group (IPOB) has several bank accounts in different countries where funds are being received from various contributors with the narrations ‘monthly dues, services and for ESN,’ among others, then later disbursed for various operations.”

Details of the development were revealed in a newsletter by the NFIU’s Counter-Financing of Terrorism Department obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday.

It added, “The analysis profiled the leader of the group, his addresses and mobile numbers abroad, with other 53 other individuals associated with the dissident group. The report was forwarded to law enforcement for further investigation.”

The NFIU further revealed that a betting platform simply identified as ‘XC’, filed a suspicious transaction report on a 24-year Nigerian customer from North-Central, Nigeria.

“This 24-year-old from Nigeria’s North-Central region received over N350,000 in his betting wallet, believed to be ransom money from a kidnapping,” the NFIU said.

In another case, the financial intelligence unit exposed a terrorist attempting to evade being detected; it noted that the individual made structured cash withdrawals from different Automated Teller Machines and purchased flight tickets to high-risk areas using credit cards.

The NFIU explained that whenever the individual exceeded his withdrawal limit, he would adopt alternative methods of travel.

“The terrorist then attempted suspicious transfers exceeding €1,000 to a local charity with potential links to terrorism. These transactions, along with others for luxury goods and escort services, raised red flags,” the newsletter stated

The NFIU further urged law enforcement agencies to investigate transactions by individuals linked to known terrorists or financiers; unauthorised tax collection or forced donations in terrorism-prone areas, and Bureau de Change operators facilitating transfers within suspected networks.

Other areas the unit wants security agencies to beam their searchlights are multiple cash deposits in bank accounts; Point of Sale operators receiving large deposits followed by cash withdrawals; money transfers from Nigeria to high-risk countries; recruitment of individuals to open multiple bank accounts; and financial transfers to charities linked to terrorism.

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