The Federal Government has made a shocking discovery of sponsors of Boko Haram and bandits, the Presidency said last night.
It restated the claim that a link between kidnapping for ransom, banditry and Boko Haram sponsorship had been established.
These sponsors include some bureau de change operators with contacts abroad, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, said.
According to him, there is evidence that money is being sent from United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Boko Haram leaders.
He confirmed that the statement by Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Dr. Kayode Fayemi that Boko Haram sponsors are behind banditry and kidnapping is a product of intelligence gathering.
He said many people have been arrested and that after investigation, those involved will be exposed.
He warned that there would be no sacred cows even if those involved were found to be politicians.
Shehu, speaking on Channels Television, said: “It is shocking to any Nigerian that places of worship and farmland are places where killers of policemen and security officials are being harboured.
“The new Service chiefs are working with the IG and heads of intelligence agencies and there is a clear lead.
A lot of people have been arrested in terms of their financing (of terrorism).
“There are a number of people who are currently under arrest.
“Bureau de change are facilitating money to terrorists. We have already concluded with the UAE on Nigerians who are transferring money to Boko Haram terrorists and this also happens domestically.
“And I tell you that by the time we conclude this investigation, the shocking details will surprise many Nigerians.”
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Also yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Security Chiefs to “take out” the leaders and sponsors of bandits and kidnappers.
He also reiterated his call on them to bring down violence in the country within the next few weeks.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Lucky Irabor and National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) confirmed the new order after a meeting with the President.
Gen. Monguno told State House reporters: “Mr. President has made it very clear to both the intelligence and operational elements that the first assignment will be to identify the leaders of these bandits, kidnappers and take them out, in order to restore confidence in those areas.
“Mr. President has said that he will no longer tolerate a situation whereby bandits and kidnappers are the ones dictating the pace and setting the tone and he will not also condone a situation in which our own operations are reactionary rather than being proactive.
“He has also indicated his willingness to provide all the resources required by our own troops in order to put down these criminals. They must be brought down with all the ruthlessness that is required and whoever is working in collaboration with them will be brought to book.
“He has also declared that there will be no adjustment in whatever the National Security Council has already laid out until normalcy is restored. He’s also aware of attempts by certain elements, working in cahoots with all kinds of people in and out of the country to continue with exploiting the minefields, especially in Zamfara State.
“A ban has been placed on mining and that ban has to be enforced, people have to comply with whatever the President has laid out. Of course, we, in the intelligence domain, are aware that there are individuals and groups who are planning to link up with all kinds of non-state actors in order to frustrate the efforts of government in implementing the ban on mining, as well as enforcing the no-fly-zone so that no rotary aircraft will land, drop whatever and pick up whatever. That has to be enforced.”
Gen. Irabor promised that the Service chiefs would live up to the President’s expectation. He said: “What Mr President said is that we must bring down the level of violence in the country within few weeks to enable our farmers to go back to the farms. That is on course.
“I believe that before the rains come you will have witnessed a downward trend in the violence across the country and i’m sure that you will attest to the fact that the heightening of operational engagements has yielded positive results.
“He is encouraging us to heighten the tempo of operations. He is satisfied with the way we’ve started and he wants us to maintain the tempo and increase it.
“We’re on course. I’m saying that our operational engagement, the totality of all our engagements, both in manpower increase as well as equipment increase and heightened operational engagements, the totality of it is what I’m saying is on course”.