An Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has upheld the imprisonment imposed on six Nigerian citizens found guilty of funding the Boko Haram terrorist group operating in the North East of Nigeria.
The six Nigerians who bagged various jail terms were found guilty of facilitating a huge sum of $782,000 into the possession of Boko Haram insurgents, who have been terrorizing Nigeria for more than a decade.
According to a Daily Trust report, two of the convicts, Surajo Muhammad and Saleh Adamu are to spend the rest part of their lives in the UAE prison while the others; Ibrahim Alhassan, AbdurRahman Musa, Bashir Yusuf and Muhammad Isa will each spend 10 years.
The six Nigerians were said to have been convicted and sentenced to jail last year, while there appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal was unsuccessful.
The verdict of the Court indicated that between 2015 and 2016, the six Nigerians channeled cash flow in United States dollars into bank accounts in favour of some Boko Haram insurgents.
Although, the families of the defendants are still contesting the judgment of the trial court and Court of Appeal, they are however in prison.
The arraignment and subsequent conviction as well as sentencing of the defendants by courts in the United Arab Emirates, to some extent has put names and faces to sponsors of insurgents in the North East of Nigeria, which for over 10 years have remained a mystery.
According to the Daily Trust report, families of the defendants continues to maintain innocence of the defendants, claiming that they were “framed up” on the grounds that they had been doing legitimate bureau de change business in the UAE before their arrest.
In the charge filed against them, Muhammad and the five other co-defendants were accused of funding a terror group (Boko Haram) by facilitating transfers of money from Dubai to Nigeria for alleged terror operations.
Their activities were said to have contravened Article 29, Clause 3 of UAE’s Federal Law No 7 of 2017 with regards to anti-terrorism law.
The defendants who are said to be confirmed members of the dreaded Boko Haram group were arrested between April 16 and 17, 2017, following a search warrant issued by UAE National Security Bureau, after which there houses were searched and incriminating documents that led to their trial were found.
“The first and second accused were said to have been charged for joining the Boko Haram group in Nigeria knowingly, which is a crime punishable under Article 22/2 of the Federal Law No 7 of 2017 with regards to anti-terrorism punishable by death or life imprisonment.
“The third, fourth, fifth and sixth accused were charged with assisting the terror group knowingly, which is a crime under Article 31, Clause 1 of the same law, and is punishable by life imprisonment or jail for not less than five years under the UAE law”, the paper had reported.
It was also reported that almost all the transactions that indicted the defendants were initiated by two undercover Boko Haram agents Alhaji Sa’idu and Alhaji Ashiru based in Nigeria from where they were facilitating the funding transactions.
Ashiru, alleged to be “a Nigerian government official” was said to have facilitated the transfer of misappropriated public funds to the group.
According to relatives of the defendants, there is every likelihood that the defendants were deceived in the course of carrying out their legitimate bureau de change transactions not aware that such transactions formed part of proceeds connected to Boko Haram.
According to them, “Alhaji Sa’idu, would arrange an unidentified or vaguely identified Arab person on a visit to Dubai from Turkey to hand over an amount of money in US Dollars to one of the convicts who would, in turn, advise his Nigerian-based business partners to hand over the Naira equivalent of the amount to him (Alhaji Sa’idu).
A source familiar with the case said, “I think Alhaji Sa’idu is just Nom de guerre who used the gullibility of the victims to achieve his aim. They were into bureau de change business, receiving and sending monies on behalf of others.
“From what I understand, they have been doing the business for long and along the line, they fell into a trap. I am not siding with them or trying to indict them but generally, there is ignorance on their side,” he said.
However when contacted for his reaction to the development, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, was said to be at the National Assembly for the defence of the ministry’s 2021 budget.
His media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu however promised to get across once he is able to get confirmation from the minister.