Terror Financing: General Ali-Keffi Writes Tinubu over Arrest, Detention, Compulsory Retirement

A former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Ali-Keffi, has written to President Bola Tinubu over his arrest, detention and compulsory retirement.

This, he said, followed the revelations of a presidential investigative taskforce that he headed, which exposed the involvement of senior government officials, a top banker and top military brass in terrorism financing as head of Operation Service Wide (OPS) set up by former President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate those involved in terrorism financing.

Ali-Keffi said he headed a presidential instituted Board of Inquiry (BOI) convened by Major General BM Monguno (rtd), the former National Security Adviser (NSA), which sat in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for five weeks from early January to late February 2020.

“I was the President of the BOI with members/secretary drawn from the NCS, NIS, DSS, NIA, ONSA, NFIU as well as from the the Board of Inquiry, which largely conducted its work as an investigative body tasked to investigate circumstances surrounding the ilegal smuggling of petroleum products contained in 168 oil tankers into Benin Republic through through a single smuggling route in Ilesa Barbara in Kwara State.

He said the BoI went further to uncover 295 oil tankers that conveyed Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and the major smugglers identified,” he said.

The petition stated that the BoI made a significant discovery regarding the relationship between the smuggling racket, the terrorism besetting the North-east, the banditry/kidnapping for ransom which was at its formative stage in the North-west and parts of North-Central geo-political zones.

This, he claimed, included the illegal mining of minerals in the North-west and North-central and large scale laundering of mostly funds meant for counterterrorism/ insurgency operations that was ongoing mostly in the Northern regions of the country.

“A syndicate which had extensive network in the country as well as being affiliated to international criminal network was as the center of moving finances for terrorism for other criminal activities stated above.

“The most worrisome aspect was that some of the individuals involved in terrorism financing of Boko Haram terrorists and who were also involved in procurement and movement of arms and ammunition for BH and other criminal organisations had links with the military.

“It was thus apparent that terrorism and insurgency in the North-east, North-west and North-central were a criminal enterprise and were largely undertaken with profit rather than any ideology, as the primary motive.

“Thus, we, at the BoI arrived at the obvious conclusion that progress cannot be achieved except the financiers, collaborators, supporters and the leadership of the terrorists and insurgents groups are identified and the network dismantled,” he said.

The petitioner said recommendations on the findings were made and submitted to the presidency.

The petition said the operation successfully infiltrated the leadership of terror groups in the North-east, which culminated in their decimation, adding that, key terrorism financiers, were linked to the individuals convicted for terror financing in UAE

The petitioner noted that trouble started when the task force became “victims of unfair attacks” including starvation of funding of its operations.

“This substantiates the argument that some powerful persons in and outside government as well as from the military were uncomfortable with the task force and specifically my humble self as commander,” he said.

The petitioner said the death of Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, under whose tenure he served as GOC, dealt a blow to the task force as the new army chief, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, removed him as GOC 1 Mechanised Division, Kaduna.

He noted that subsequently, the presidency, the AGF became “less helpful”.

According to him, the entire episode culminated in his arrest, detention for 64 days in solitary confinement, where he slept on the floor with consequent health implications.

He lamented that the most painful part of his experience was that President Buhari, who approved his headship of the taskforce did not come to his rescue.

He, therefore, sought the intervention of President Tinubu on the matter.

He prayed the president to “kindly cause an investigation into the circumstances surrounding my arrest, detention, maltreatment and compulsory retirement from the Nigerian Army.

He also sought a review of his compulsory retirement from the army and commute it to voluntary retirement as well as approve compensation for the expenditure incured by the taskforce in hiring of vehicle and quarters.

Ali-Keffi further wanted compensation for the pains and injuries suffered while incarcerated and and approval of personal security.

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