Amid United Nations’ reports that the annual budget of extremist Boko Haram could be as high as $10million (about N2billion), Senegalese authorities have arrested two suspected Boko Haram female members with 500 million CFA (about N164 million) cash.
Deputy Director of Assessment and Technical Assistance for the UN Counter-terrorism Committee, Hassan Baage, told a gathering of West African Security experts in Dakar, Senegal, that the extremist sect’s annual budget was believed to be up to $10 million.
The Associated Press (AP) which covered the Dakar event quoted the UN official as calling for closer scrutiny of the financing of extremist groups, including Boko Haram. “We must detect the flow of money that finances their activities and measures must be implemented to freeze the funds. According to reports that we’ve consulted, the budget of Boko Haram is around $10 million per year,” Baage said.
Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, a special envoy for the African Union, said at the event that a stronger institution was needed to police and block the financing of extremism. “The transfer of money through informal circles means huge amounts of money can circulate in these regions uncontrolled,” he said.
Boko Haram’s financing could come from crime cartels, false charity organisations and blackmail, said other experts at the forum on fighting extremism. Other analysts said the militants are known to have been paid millions for hostages, mainly French and Cameroonians taken in Cameroon, though Cameroon’s government denies paying ransoms.
Also, a number of suspects have been reportedly arrested in and around Dakar, the Senegalese capital, in the past two weeks with links to Boko Haram. Two women, according to Premium Times, an online newspaper, were arrested in Guidiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, on suspicion of links to the group. Officials say the women popped up on the radar of security agencies and were afterwards placed under surveillance after authorities intercepted their communication with a suspected Boko Haram fighter in Nigeria, who was confirmed to be the husband of one suspect and brother to the other.
Security forces also reported uncovering a consistent number of money transfers between the suspects and their alleged Boko Haram fighter-relative for months. After their arrest, a search was conducted on their home and a cash of 500 million CFA Francs (about N164 million) was found in their possession, authorities claimed.
“The fact that such an amount was in their possession instead of being in the bank further goes to confirm ties with the alleged Boko Haram fighter,” a security source said.