Against the backdrop of continuing Boko Haram attacks in the North East states especially now through the soft target approach of using suicide bombers, a senior army officer has pin-pointed access to illegal funds as one of the major factors emboldening the terrorist group.
According to Colonel EV Onumajuru, the Commander, 81 Division Intelligence Command; if the authorities could find a way to halt access to the illegal funds, Boko Haram will be incapable of maintaining the broad infrastructure needed to run an effective organization.
The officer who was speaking recently a lecture on terrorism and changing nature of counter insurgency at the training week of the Nigerian Army Finance Corps Warrant Officers/Senior Non-Commissioned officers which held in Lagos last week, affirmed that ‘finding means to quickly and securely raise, launder, transfer, store and gain access to funds remains a top priority for all terrorist groups’.His words, “Terrorist finance is an area of rapid change, as Boko Haram seeks actively to evade government scrutiny and take advantage of emerging technologies.”Keeping financiers on the defensive and denying them the luxury of time and space puts them under stress, deters donors, restricts the flow of funds and helps constrict the operating environment.”The major aim of all terrorist groups is to cause changes in our way of life, to seek to influence lifestyle changes. It is for this same reason that counter insurgency operations are difficult as government seeks to balance our freedom and fundamental human rights with the need to ensure security”.
On measures and steps the citizenry and government should apply to checkmate and avoid falling as preys, Onumajuru said there is the need to ‘avoid Boko Haram narratives; understand and actively practice the federal government narratives’ which seeks to brainwash adherents of their teachings which is against Islamic teachings (banning of western education); and government side that every Nigerian has right to education and practice of religion and freedom.
‘There is also need to avoid radicalization and fanatical preaching, irresponsible use of social media; and avoiding informal funds transfer (Hawala banking).
Highlighting on informal funds transfer, the Colonel said, “A key implication of terrorism and Country terrorism/Counter Insurgency operation in Nigeria, for personnel and finance personnel is the need to avoid Hawala banking system. Money remains a critical element for terrorist’s organizations. Without it, organizations like Boko Haram would be incapable of maintaining the broad infrastructure necessary to run an effective terror organization.
“Terrorists finance is also an area of rapid change, as the Boko Haram groups seek actively to evade governmental scrutiny and take advantage of emerging technologies” he said adding “These include the growing use of cash couriers, and informal remittance systems for transferring money, to transfer funds.
“But keeping terrorism financiers on the defensive and denying them the luxury of time and space puts them under stress; deters donors, restricts the flow of funds and helps conscript the operating environment”.
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General KTJ Minimah in his contribution harped on the need for adequate and sustained funding of the operations to decimate Boko Haram from our shores while also emphasizing the need for motivation and continuous training for army personnel.Commending government for its support in both areas of operation and motivation of troops which he described as tremendous, Minimah said the military authorities were conscious of the enormous burden of government in view of the competing demands within dwindling revenue flow.
In view of this, he tasked the officers to continuously embrace procedures and practices that would support the army to achieve value for money in all operations.On the theme of the training week, “Repositioning the NAFC for enhanced performance in a dynamic financial environment: Roles of NAFC SNCOs”, the former Army Chief noted that it will afford the officers the opportunity to better understand and imbibe the federal government’s reforms in financial administration.“The reforms are aimed at eliminating fraud and curbing wastage at all levels for the overall benefit of citizens hence officers and participants are advised to key into the drive and take full advantage of it” he said.”You are to update your knowledge and technical ability on the job as the Nigerian Army Finance Corps has been widely known to reinvent itself over the years” Minimah added.He continued, “I am aware of your Nigerian Army Biometrics Enrolment Exercise effort prior to the new biometric system being adopted by the Federal Government
“No doubt, your performances over the years in accounts rendition and budget implementation have been satisfactory. I am hopeful that you will use the opportunity of this training week to further improve on your primary duties
“As SNCOs, you are expected to be practical implementers of the efforts of your corps at unit levels. You are hereby tasked to project your corps positively in your various deployments. I urge you to be good examples of your corps through character and service delivery,” he said.
In a paper presented at the occasion, a vastly experience Military Police officer, (Rtd) Captain BE Nwonye harped on the importance of soldier’s motivation especially after putting in his best to achieve a success that uplifted a unit.
Defining motivation as an act of inspiring someone with incentive or morale booster in order to arouse his interest and commitment to perform actively, Nwonye noted that in the past, priorities were given to issues of personnel with welfare benefits, while special privileges were extended to personnel up to post-service era, which in no small measure, boosted their morale.
“These efforts went a long way in motivating all serving and retired personnel to be prepared to sacrifice themselves for their nation thus giving them a reassurance of their present and post-service life” he said.While regretting that reverse seemed to have become the case going by references drawn from immediate past colleagues who left service or died in active service, Nwonye revealed that the trend had led to general decline of morale and level of commitment by serving personnel, particularly the lower ranks.”Most units’ activities have been relegated to the background due to the level of command and control over administrative issues” he said.”It is of note to hear with great dismay that the standards of our NA warrant officers/senior non-commissioned officers seem to be deteriorating or have not improved in consonance with that of the officers corps” he added.Continuing he said, “Every nation tries to maintain a virile, efficient force capable of defending its territorial integrity. Such a force should be strong and good enough to meet the enemy abroad or they should be ready to receive him at home.
“Military profession like most other professions is a special profession. Skill and efficiency are the two factors that determine a good army. These attributes can be best developed through a careful career plan which entails good training and proper employment of the personnel.
“History will continue to bear witness to the fact that good unit administration in both peace and war is the key, not only to a unit’s morale but also to its subsequent successes in battle,” he further said.
At the close of the training week, participants and presenters alike were of the opinion that issues of funds and motivation for the army as well as how they impact on national security and democracy in general should be given prime positions in the current dispensation.The training session was particularly spelt out the expectation of the finance corps personnel owing to their role as advisers on financial administration as well as their roles operational successes at strategic and tactical levels during military offensives.
The training helped in not only updating the knowledge and skills of the corps in relation to the dynamic nature of the country’s economy and that of the world at large, it improved the knowledge of the participants in the area of better rendition of accounts and maintenance of financial documents.