After Nigeria witnessed its first suicide bomb attack on June 16, 2011, the country has witnessed many more similar attacks from the Jama’atu Ahl Sunnati Lil Da’awatil Wal Jihad also referred to as the Boko Haram sect. Incidentally, arrests, detention and even the killing of those believed to be the top men in the organisation has not stopped the group’s operation, neither has it reduced the terror unleashed on the country by members of the group, thus giving an indication that the group has a well organised structure and it plans its activities with near precision. The fact that the group operates in a cell structure makes it even more difficult to either trace their members or track them down. It is believed that the leader, Abubakar Shekau commands the regional leaders who in turn command leaders spread across more than 20 cell groups scattered in various parts of the country.
Investigations into the internal workings of the Boko Haram sect revealed that the group had trained a number of people in Somalia, while some are bomb making experts; some were trained extensively in the use of assault rifles for different operations. Some of the rugged training they went through included firing with precision while on the move, including operating from vehicles and motorcycles.
Those who had thought suicide bombing was impossible in Nigeria were stunned when the Louis Edet House, headquarters of the Nigerian Police came under attack. Checks revealed that the bomber was 35-year-old Mohammed Manga, whose parents hailed from Adamawa State. Manga who was fondly referred to as “Alhaji Manga” was born in Maiduguri and it was there that he embraced the teachings of Malam Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the Boko Haram sect who was killed by policemen in 2009.
The leadership of the Boko Haram sect revealed that Manga who started as a commercial driver later became a trader and was buying goods from Cotonou. It was also stated that at a later time, he started buying his goods from Dubai. Before Manga went on his suicide mission, he had left his wife and five children with the sum of N 4 million. There is however the belief that Manga had suffered business failure before he opted for the suicide mission. Under normal conditions, no businessman whose trade is booming would choose to die.
Street Journal’s investigations also revealed that suicide bombing seems to have become a lucrative trade. The sect boasts of hundreds of suicide bombers eagerly waiting for their turn to embark on the journey of no return and it was found out that apart from the notion that they would be rewarded with a place in paradise for their acts; each suicide bomber gets amounts running into millions of Naira. The money is paid to the bomber a few days before the mission and investigations have revealed that the money is meant for the family of such bombers. With the money, it is believed that the family of the bomber would start a new beginning after the exit of their breadwinner.
Meanwhile, to ensure that the wives and children left behind by suicide bombers are well taken care of, Street Journal gathered that they are encouraged to marry other members of the sect.
It was also found out that the prospective bombers are placed under close watch to prevent defection. Most of them are accompanied almost to the point where the explosives would be detonated. At times, the person(s) accompanying the bomber would be saddled with the responsibility of taking photographs or even getting first hand video recordings of the bombing which would end up being used in the sect leader’s speech whenever the group would claim responsibility.
Findings have revealed that the amount paid to suicide bombers went up with the success of the Louis Edet building operation. It was gathered that the funds paid to the bomber of the United Nations building was in the region of N 10 million.
While security agencies have been trying to unravel the mystery behind the funding of the terrorist group, Street Journal found out that the groups arms build up was first financed through the few rich members of the group. The group also got support from politicians, some of who owed them some sort of gratitude for help rendered before, during and after the 2007 elections. The group also made money from extortion as some Governors had to pay the sect to prevent attacks on their states.
While monetary support comes from within the country, other forms of support are received from affiliate groups. For instance, members of the group received and still receive training from Al-Quaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Al Shabaab group while membership of Boko Haram now includes immigrants from Chad and Niger Republic.
When the sect however officially became outlawed after the death of its leader in 2009 and it became clear that some of those who bankrolled the group’s activities would no longer do so, looking for other sources became inevitable.
Investigations revealed that over the past one year, some of the bank robberies in the northern part of the country could be traced to the sect. In one of such robberies, the well armed gunmen broke into the vault of a bank using explosives and after the operation; they took time to share some of the loot with those in the town.
Apparently unknown to Nigeria’s security forces, that has been the sect’s main source of funds.
It has also been observed that bank raids in any part of the North are usually followed by a suicide bombing. The bombing usually occurs a week or sometimes less after the robbery. For instance, on Friday 30th March 2012, a branch of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in Askira, in Borno State was robbed. Nine days later, precisely 8th April, the Easter celebration turned bloody in Kaduna as a suicide bomber struck at the ECWA Church killing people who had gone to church for the early morning resurrection day service.
Three was another bank robbery in Ankpa, Kogi State on April 25, 2012. The following day, a suicide bomber drove into the gates of This Day Newspapers in Abuja blowing himself and a number of other people. Four days later, the convoy of the Taraba State Commissioner of Police was targeted by suicide bombers on a motorcycle. There was also bank robbery around the time the Police Headquarters was bombed.
In the last one week, Gombe State witnessed two suicide bombings, the Emir of Fika, Alhaji Mohammed Abali Ibn Idrissa escaped a suicide bomb attack in the Potiskum Central mosque. The police orderly who prevented the bomber from reaching him however died in the attack. Two days later, the police headquarters in Damaturu was hit.
Before the two attacks however, a robbery had occurred around 5.40 pm on Wednesday, 1st August, two days before the attempt on the Emir’s life. Four soldiers, one policeman and the Accountant of the Local Government were killed as armed men shot at the vehicle conveying the salaries of workers of the Gulani Local Government Area of the state. Checks revealed that the wages of the workers in the Local Government amounts to N 35 million every month.
While it is believed that one of the ways of curbing the operations of the terrorist group is to block their access to funds, findings have shown that in 2011 alone, about 100 banks were robbed in Nigeria. Not less than 30 of those robberies were carried out by suspected Boko Haram members.