The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other anti-graft agencies have been asked to probe some Non Governmental Organizations undermining the ongoing fight against terror in Nigeria.
The Public Accountability Network, a civil society organization, which made this call on Sunday, decried the activities of some NGOs operating in Nigeria, which had contributed to the rising cases of terrorism in the nation.
PAN said it was shocked to discover that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were in the business of providing wholesale support to Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) in order to remain in business.
Addressing newsmen on Sunday, the group through its Executive Director, Mark Daniel Atawodi, called for ban of any group found to have been collaborating with Boko Haram for their selfish interest.
He also urged the relevant authorities to go the extra length to put indicted organizations and their managers on trial with a view to securing the stiffest punishment possible to deter those that have the intention of supporting Boko Haram and ISWAP to remain persistent threat to Nigerians.
His statement below:
The confirmation by the Nigerian Army that Action Against Hunger, an NGO operating in the Northeast was aiding and abetting terrorists in this regard did not come as a surprise to us.
Public Accountability Network(PAN), with its sister NGOs had in the past raised concerns about the surreptitious activities of unscrupulous group that hide behind their international status or affiliation to commit crimes in Nigeria.
It is commendable that the Nigerian Army has proactively banned Action Against Hunger following the discovery of its support for terrorism.
We are however concerned that banning this one NGO is not enough. Action Against Hunger is a mere tip of the iceberg. It is just one of the many organizations that have engaged in activities that are inimical to the interest of Nigeria.
With Action Against Hunger being found out, its other accomplices have by now gone underground, since they will by now be doing their utmost to conceal their illicit activities. The network of these groups is extensive since they include local, continental and international NGOs that gained access to the theatre of operations under the pretext of carrying out humanitarian work.
It is therefore critical at this stage that the Nigerian Army, working with sister security agencies, conduct an audit of NGOs working in areas plagued by Boko Haram insurgency. The essence of this audit is to ascertain the authenticity of the statement of claim that each organization made to gain access to the region. Violation of the terms on which they were accredited to the area would flag other mischief they have been up to.
The Nigerian Army must similarly leverage the special skills available in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the ICPC to trace the sources of finances of these NGOs. This is against the background that many of them are being financed by foreign interests that are obsessed with destroying Nigeria as a sovereign nation.
Even some local NGOs are complicit of running errands financed from such questionable funds that allowed them to operate as proxies and franchises for the larger saboteurs.
We consequently demand that the Army, working with these anti-graft agencies, immediately investigate the finances of all groups operating in the Northeast.
This investigation should cover what entities paid monies to NGOs operating in the area and the expenditure items of these organizations. In order words, Nigerian want to know who gave them money, what the moneys are meant for, who received the moneys and what the funds were spent on. In the event where payments are traceable to individuals, comprehensive background checks should be carried out to rule out any links to Boko Haram, ISWAP or any other terrorist group.
Our demand is based on the realization that these NGOs have the incentive to undermine Nigeria, an assignment they have assiduously carried out with all sense of impunity:
The criminal NGOs are supporting Boko Haram and ISWAP as a way of ensuring that the terrorists survive the military operation in order for them to validate their failed projections that the terrorists will bring about the end of Nigeria. The discovery of this treachery has however confirmed that Nigeria will overcome the evil they plotted for the country.
These NGOs are pained that their militant wings as represented by the terrorists have repeatedly taken beatings from the military. By supplying food and medication to these terrorists Action Against Hunger aims to reverse the progress made against the insurgent. This leaves us wondering if it is only food and medication that this NGO gave the terrorists since they could also have been behind the recent sophisticated weapons that the terrorists have been taking into battle.
They are also disappointed that the campaign of calumny mounted against the Nigerian state by its partners, like Amnesty International have only made the country stronger while the terrorists they are eager to allow to overrun the country are continually being defeated.
But they should not have taken their disappointment to the point where they further compromise the safety of the innocent Nigerians that will become the victims of a well fed Boko Haram.
The quest for increased donor funding, which would be possible when Boko Haram continues to remain a treat is an attraction for these terrorist NGOs.
They want to provide food and logistics that strengthen Boko Haram so that they will continue to have justification for requesting more funds. This is the lowest form of immorality. No one should prop up terrorists simply in order to raise more funds.
There has been concerns that the subversive activities of these questionable NGOs are at the instance of certain countries that have economic and geo-strategic objectives in Nigerias northeast. They have become the vehicles for delivering whatever interventions these countries have for undermining Nigeria.
Nigerians should not forget that the Army had in the past caught out some associates of these NGOs using the cover of their work in the region to gather intelligence that they then pass on to the terrorists.
This particular objective of the indicted NGOs is o dangerous that it has been identified as a key factor in the instances when troops were ambushed. Genuine stakeholders had raised concerns about this but they were dismissed as conspiracy theorists.
The lie of providing food and care for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) when in reality they were servicing Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists is also conveniently being used as manipulated data that will be misinterpreted to create the impression that things are more dire than the reality on ground suggests.
Action Against Hunger and its fellow pseudo terrorist NGOs might have tainted the concept and practice of humanitarian relief work as seen from the resulting public ire, we nonetheless recognize that there are good organizations that are doing good work in in providing succour to persons and families affected by the activities of terrorists. We wholeheartedly welcome the objectives and the activities of these good ones especially at a time that humanity is being threatened by insurgents. We recommend such groups as the shining example that those scheming to profit from the human misery caused by terrorism.
With the knowledge that we now have of the subversive role being played by organizations like Action Against Hunger, we call on the United Nations and its subsidiaries, supra-national bodies and responsible donor partners to stop funding this organization and others with links to it. These potential donors must, in the interest of humanity, ensure that they implement stringent pre-qualification parameters for funds recipients to ensure that the resources they have earmarked for helping humanity are not diverted for terrorists use.
We want to conclude by asking that ban of any group found to have been collaborating with Boko Haram is not enough. The government should go the extra length to put indicted organizations and their managers on trial with a view to securing the stiffest punishment possible deter those that have the intention of supporting Boko Haram and ISWAP to remain persistent threat to Nigerians.
Author: John Owen Nwachukwu