Colonel (rtd) Sambo Dasuki, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser

20 March, 2014

In one of the poorest regions of the
world, Nigerian insurgents fight with
advanced weaponry and disappear into the shadows after massive attacks. Security analysts say funding for these operations is most likely vast and varied, and the only way to permanently stop the fighting is to cut it off.

Late last year, militants bombed a police station, an army base and attacked the Nigerian air force. They left behind the bodies of two suspected Boko Haram fighters, tangled in the bicycles that residents say they were riding during the attack.

But their low-tech vehicles were
deceiving, analysts say, as the Boko
Haram militancy continues to evolve.
Now the group appears to be awash with high-end weaponry. “They’re starting to get their hands on high-grade equipment like artillery and
things like that,” said Yan St-Pierre, CEO of the Counter-Terrorism Modern Security Consulting Group. “You don’t attack the air force base and military bases without having more support either. So it’s a combination of two factors.”

Boko Haram is an Islamist militia that
preaches a harsh form of Sharia law. It has been blamed for thousands of deaths in the past four-and-a-half years, in attacks on schools, churches, mosques and the government. Its more recent targets include villages and a heavily fortified northern prison.

But how, in this impoverished region, do local militants make enough money for heavy weaponry? St-Pierre says foreign militant groups, like al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, may be partially funding Boko Haram, but their income likely comes from a much wider variety of sources.

“It is a very well-funded organization
where it has so many sources of income including in Nigeria and that whole region,” he said. “It does get money from the piracy, especially from the west coast of Africa. Drug trafficking helps, smuggling.”

Boko Haram’s expenses, he adds, are
considerably smaller than for a regular army. Mostly, St-Pierre says, the militants need money for weapons, which are increasingly available and cheap as unrest in other parts of Africa and the Middle East have created what he calls an
arms trafficking “highway.”

Bank robberies and stealing from the
Nigerian military are other ways Boko
Haram has paid its bills, says Elizabeth Donnelly of the Africa Program with London policy institute Chatham House. But she cautions that it’s difficult to pinpoint details of the funding, just as it is hard to know what the group stands for, how big it is or who its leaders are.

“I think on one hand as time has gone on infiltration of the group has become more difficult,” she said. “I think the other thing is that actually Boko Haram seems to take steps to clear up evidence after an attack,which is also a problem.” Before authorities can cut off Boko Haram funding, she adds, they have to find it. And doing that, Donnelly says, would go a long way toward crippling the group.

Although some security analysts say Boko Haram is internationally backed, she says even if it has international ties, Boko Haram’s interests appear to remain entirely in Nigeria. She says this suggests that as the insurgency drags on, destroying the economy in northeastern Nigeria and scaring away residents, Boko Haram’s funding may also suffer.

“If it’s funding itself and feeding itself by theft from the surrounding areas, then actually when there’s nothing left to take, that’s a serious question for the group,” she said. “It would have to throw its net wider.”

Politicians and traditional leaders in
Nigeria often accuse their opponents of supporting Boko Haram financially, but Donnelly says there is no hard evidence from any side that this is true.

In a speech this week, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki said amid the uncertainty, neither military might nor peace talks alone will end the violence. He called for educational and prison reform and other efforts to prevent people from joining Boko Haram in the first place.


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. ozed says:

    Here we have one more reason why our government should take the war against corruption seriously. Actually for all the funding it needs BH needs look no further than getting its sympathizers into the Nigerian government, and then through them tapping into the sometimes lavish kickbacks that tend to attend public contract awards at the LG, State and of course FG.

    In other words we may actually be funding our enemies. Let us gird our loins and reduce corruption to the barest minimum.

    • Are James says:

      We are definitely going to lose the war without a parallel war against corruption.
      To put it in more painfully stark terms, if nothing is done about corruption, Boko Haram which is currently less than 20000 men will successfully carve out large tracks of Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger for itself and we would all be wondering years from now what really happened.
      All arms of the military, immigration, customs, foreign exchange and banking regulators should be cleansed of this wasting virus of corruption otherwise we would wake up one day to find that the most unexpected military gains have accrued to the enemy because somebody somewhere has refused to do his job or sold out critical information.

  2. igbi says:

    The report is a little bit useless. “Vast and varied” only means they have no idea.
    And I thought piracy in the gulf of guinea was more of a MEND thing. The “experts don’t seem to have done their homeworks.

    • asorockweb says:


      Doesn’t seem to contain information that is specific to Boko Haram.

      The “experts” just listed the “usual suspects”.

      It’s an African story – very little research by the “experts” or the reporter.

  3. beegeagle says:

    Most of these so called experts are just broad on generalisation and low on specifics. They mostly sound pedestrian or prejudiced. It is still a Nigerian problem whereas BH armoury is in Cameroon?

    Mr Campbell spent all of 2012 telling the world that GEJ broke an unwritten rule that power be rotated between North and South…no doubt parroting Mallam Shehu the activist. So galloping what? In effect, the BH Insurgency becomes justifiable?

    Well, Shehu Shagari broke the same rule when he contested in the 1983 polls? NPN had pledged to produce a candidate from the South but Shagari carried on as they were? Was that not why MKO Abiola quit the NPN to protest the voiding of that unwritten agreement? Did he wage war against Nigeria?

    Such experts…next!

  4. Deway says:

    Hahaha, lengthy documentation but nothing substantial. Saying boko haram gets funded from piracy in the Niger Delta is laughable unless there is a connection I do not know about. They need to pull this piece from their website. Nothing new here.

  5. asorockweb says:

    As we have previously noted, the analysts and experts mentioned in the report have not attempted to do the requisite research and analysis needed to answer the question:

    Where does Boko Haram’s funding come from?

    Based on publicly available information and the known history of Boko Haram and other terror groups, I believe Boko Haram’s funding comes from the following sources, listed in order of importance:

    1) French ransom money.
    The French authorities have facilitated the payment of millions of dollars for the release of it’s citizens kidnapped by Boko Haram or Boko Haram affiliated groups.
    The last French kidnap victim that regained his freedom last year, supposedly escaped when the kidnappers went to the “bathroom” – I didn’t buy that story, I believe a ransom was actually paid, before he regained his freedom.

    2) Jihad money from the GCC countries.
    This is more speculative, but we know that in the past, rich devout citizens of countries like Saudi Arabia have sponsored extremist groups that claim to be fighting for Islam. With Libya in turmoil, I can imagine a scenario where the donors actually paying arms dealers directly, and all BH has to do is pickup Libyan arms and transport the weapons to Nigeria and Cameroon. Paying the arms dealer directly makes it harder to link the GCC citizen with any particular terror group. It also makes it harder for intelligence agencies, that are trying to trace Boko Haram financing, to link weapons to money and eventually to sponsor.

    3) Smuggling and protection money
    Millions of dollars worth of Nigeria’s subsidized refined petroleum products are smuggled across the border to countries like Niger, Cameroon, Benin, Chad and even Sudan. BH could have taken a hold of these smuggling operations or just charge the smugglers for safe conduct. Most of the trade that occur across our northern borders are either illegal or informal. These are potential sources of income for any group that dominates the border regions.

    4) Robberies
    BH have been know to rob banks in Nigeria, but with economic activities drying up in the north east, that source of revenue is quickly disappearing.

    5) Donations from rich devout Nigerians
    Before BH turned itself into a group that kills anything the is human and Nigerian, there where folks in northern Nigerian that believed in it’s stated cause – Turn Nigeria into a strict Sharia-law based nation. But that support base has evaporated as even the most devout, can no longer imagine what Nigeria, after a BH victory, would look like.

    6) Other Terror Groups
    The main reason that other terror groups have for supporting BH financially, is to benefit from BH’s expected victory. Also, BH helped the terror groups that took over northern Mali and the returned support of AQIM and related groups now may be expected.
    Al shabaab is in a fight for it’s life and Al Qaeda Central’s financing powers have been heavily curtailed.
    AQAP is probably still financially strong, and having an affiliate in Nigeria would be of strong interest to them – recall the Christmas day-bomber.

    7) Nigerian Politicians
    I know a lot has been said about Nigerian Politicians sponsoring BH, it may have been so in the past, but I don’t believe that they are currently major sponsors of BH.

    • AreJames says:

      No.7 is an intelligent deduction. I have said the same thing many times as well. If you put all Nigerian ex sponsors of BH in prison, the sect will still continue and very strongly too.

      No.2 is the main problem. Esp. Qatar based groups through Libya. Malian elements could also have joined up because they need Nigeria down to do anything in the region.
      When you look at the dimensions of the problem there is a doubt whether we have the external intelligence assets to tackle the problem and if the current government have the profile to ‘re orientate in that direction.

  6. peccavi says:

    Fuel smuggling. cut it and watch BH struggle

    • AreJames says:

      The NAF says it is after fuel supply lines from the air. I think we should also understand that to mean even greater terestial efforts are on going by SFs.

    • asorockweb says:

      Fuel smuggling is very tough to stop.

      Granted, massive efforts could be made to interdict, but that will not last and the smugglers will readjust.

      The only way is to remove the subsidy on petroleum products.
      That way, people in Niger, Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Sudan pay exactly what we pay for fuel.

      No incentive, no smuggling.

      • peccavi says:

        I agree. Its a phantom subsidy anyway because the pump price is dictated by market forces.
        But physical efforts to interdict smuggling routes will cause attrition and push up the cost of smuggling, and actual prosecutions and investigations

    • asorockweb says:

      A Canadian and two Italians kidnapped.

      No French.

      Canada won’t pay a ransom.
      Not sure about the Italians.

      Why won’t westerners just leave Northern Cameroon?

      Each time a million dollar ransom is paid, 100s of Nigerians die.

  7. beegeagle says:


    COMPARE…we wrote ours a whole year in advance. Nigerian journalists, add a touch of class to your game. Chei..xeroxed verbatim. READ the sections entitled “ORIGIN” and LIKE SUDAN, LIKE NIGERIA”

    Monkey dey work…baboon dey chop.

    • peccavi says:

      He he, truly shameless oh!

      Well imitation they say is the sincerest form of flattery.

      You should also know that some of the comments and things written on these pages are passed off by so called professionals, risk management companies etc, who charge big money for simply cutting and pasting things they see here.

    • igbi says:

      I think that article is an other attempt to divide the army. They have already tried along ethnic lines, along religious lines, and now they are trying along uniform color.

    • asorockweb says:

      VOA should know better.

      A basic Boko Haram implant story.

      “The soldier said when the two military units joined up, they were given different uniforms. The Bama unit commander gave his own troops green uniforms. The soldier said his unit received tan “desert camouflage” uniforms.”

      What uniforms were the soldiers wearing before the “switch” – maybe the VOA reporter thought they were naked initially?

      Any thoughtful person should quickly realize that local commanders don’t change the uniforms of their men for specific operations.

      Unit commanders are not tailors or clothing retailers that keep a stash of uniforms of varies colors.

  8. beegeagle says:

    Only from the Hausa language services of these international broadcasters can such conspiratorial hogwash emanate. They elevate old wives tales and street humour to the level of news stories and their paymasters, ever ready to dig up some dirt, effortlessly get taken in.

    This kind of trashy, open-ended reportage is too low for zero and two notches below slime really. Quite pathetic.

    If the VOA are so worried about collaboration between BH and rogue NA elements, they should even be more worried about the fact that they are getting the short end of the stick from their hirelings in the Hausa Service, many of whom, as is the case with all the Western broadcasters beaming to Nigeria, are decipherably BH propagandists and sympathisers.

    Someone post this to the VOA people so they know that they all too often get sold a dud by the two-faced hirelings within.

    VOA are heading for the trashcan where their British counterparts arrived a long time ago. The journey to nowhere commenced with the arrival of Heather Murdock at the Nigeria desk with her make-believe ‘activist mental overload’. That was the beginning of the slide of the VOA from the dignified middle ground. These days, they only pontificate and prescribe, not failing to name the Nigerians who are helping to do the damage for the love of lucre.

    Sorry but the story itself is a contradictory boatload of nonsense. I think Oga Asorock has taken up the salient points already.

  9. Are James says:

    This one from a local newspaper should make everyone even more angry then.
    Paragraphs 10 to 14.
    There is a need to embed local defence reporters within military units deployed at the fronts, this will curb a lot of third hand reporting from foreign news sources.

  10. rka says:

    Fellow bloggers, I am not one to believe unnamed sources but the below article has me concerned;

    “The soldier, who did not want to be identified, said the commander of a nearby military unit, based in the town of Bama, recently sought assistance from his unit in carrying out a raid.

    The soldier said when the two military units joined up, they were given different uniforms. The Bama unit commander gave his own troops green uniforms. The soldier said his unit received tan “desert camouflage” uniforms.

    When the troops reached the battle area, the soldier said the commander of the better-equipped Bama unit suddenly withdrew his forces, leaving the remaining troops to fend for themselves against Boko Haram fighters.

    Speaking in Hausa, he said, “We had only light arms and our men were being picked off one after the other.”

    The soldier also said he recognized some of the Boko Haram fighters as his former military trainers in Kontagora, a town near the capital, Abuja.

    “We realized that some of them were actually mercenaries from the Nigerian army… hired to fight us,” he said.

    This soldier and others have said that too often, commanders have pocketed money that was supposed to be used to help equip units.”

    • igbi says:

      We have already debunked this article. It is just an other attempt to devise the army, just scroll up and read what we wrote.

      • rka says:

        Thanks @oga Igbi, I missed it. I was actually reverting to my original opinion about these articles. I wondered how an alleged soldier who was supposedly led into an ambush and comrades were being “picked off” survived and how in the middle of an ambush, which is usually chaotic, you would recognise former army instructors.

        I agree, total rubbish.

    • Are James says:

      Commendable innovations being brought to bear in the war against terrorism but once again the technological ignorance / intellectual mediocrity of the our journalists shine through in this article. This war is truly exposing some key areas of weaknesses in our national life and the press is clearly one of them.

  11. Colonel says:

    Are james you are right. Our press men have little or no knowledge about the military. The news by VOA has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by most Nigerians who cant read between the lines.

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