Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),

IPOB funding terrorism through sports betting platforms, crowdfunding — FG

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The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has alleged that the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is funding its terrorism activities through sports betting platforms and global crowdfunding.

The anti-graft agency also listed bandits and other terror groups as part of the criminal organisations using the same platforms to get support which had entrenched their bases to further wreak havocs on the country.

The NFIU, a former department at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), specifically said IPOB received funds through affiliates in 22 countries that have registered at least 27 entities under the group’s name.

These were contained in a newsletter by the NFIU’s Counter-Financing of Terrorism Department, a copy of which was emailed to Daily Trust on Tuesday.

The NFIU explained that seven of the 27 entities’ registrations were made in the United States, while six were in the United Kingdom.

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According to the anti-graft agency, over $160,000 was also raised by IPOB through crowd-funding and it was funnelled to transmission, media and broadcasting companies in Bulgaria, South Africa, and the UK.

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The newsletter stated, “The analysis further indicates that the group (IPOB) has several bank accounts in different countries where funds are being received from various contributors with the narrations ‘monthly dues, services and for ESN,’ among others, then later disbursed for various operations.

“The analysis profiled the leader of the group, his addresses and mobile numbers abroad, with other 53 other individuals associated with the dissident group. The report was forwarded to law enforcement for further investigation.”

The NFIU further disclosed that a betting platform simply identified as ‘XC’, filed a suspicious transaction report on a 24-year Nigerian customer from North-Central Nigeria.

“This 24-year-old from Nigeria’s North-Central region received over N350,000 in his betting wallet, believed to be ransom money from a kidnapping,” the anti-graft agency explained.

In a related case, the NFIU further revealed that there was a terrorist attempting to evade being detected saying the individual made structured cash withdrawals from different Automated Teller Machines and purchased flight tickets to high-risk areas using credit cards.

According to the NFIU, whenever the individual exceeded his withdrawal limit, he would adopt alternative methods of travel.

It stated further, “The terrorist then attempted suspicious transfers exceeding €1,000 to a local charity with potential links to terrorism. These transactions, along with others for luxury goods and escort services, raised red flags ”

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The NFIU, however, urged law enforcement agencies to investigate transactions by individuals linked to known terrorists or financiers; unauthorised tax collection or forced donations in terrorism-prone areas, and Bureau de Change operators facilitating transfers within suspected networks.

Other areas the unit wants security agencies to beam their searchlights include multiple cash deposits in bank accounts; Point of Sale operators receiving large deposits followed by cash withdrawals; money transfers from Nigeria to high-risk countries; recruitment of individuals to open multiple bank accounts; and financial transfers to charities linked to terrorism.

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