4th June, 2013
Boko Haram and Ansaru, Nigeria’s terror groups have been banned and members and associates would bag up to 20-year jail term, a government statement said on Tuesday, a day after the United States offered rewards for the first time for information on Islamist militants in North and West Africa.
The US said up to $7million (about N1.05 billion) has been placed on the head of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, while $16 million (about N2.5 billion) has been made available for information on leading figures in Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).
According to a statement by Reuben Abati, media and publicity adviser, President Goodluck Jonathan has formally approved the proscription of Boko Haram and authorized the gazetting of an order declaring the group’s activities illegal and acts of terrorism.
The order which has been gazetted as the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice 2013 affects both Boko Haram (Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad) and another group – Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, was approved by President Jonathan pursuant to section 2 0f the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 (As Amended).
It officially brings the activities of both groups within the purview of the Terrorism Prevention Act and any persons associated with the two groups can now be legally prosecuted and sentenced to penalties specified in the Act.
The proscription order warns the general public that any person “participating in any form of activities involving or concerning the collective intentions of the said groups will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act”.
Section 5 (1) of the act prescribes a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years for any person who knowingly, in any manner, directly or indirectly, solicits or renders support for the commission of an act of terrorism or to a terrorist group.
“For the purposes of subsection (1) of section, “support” includes –
(a) incitement to commit a terrorist act through the internet, or any electronic means or through the use of printed materials or through the dissemination of terrorist information;
(b) receipt or provision of material assistance, weapons including biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, explosives, training, transportation, false documentation or identification to terrorists or terrorist groups;
(c) receipt or provision of information or moral assistance, including invitation to adhere to a terrorist or terrorist group;
(d) entering or remaining in a country for the benefit of, or at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group; or
(e) the provision of, or making available, such financial or other related services prohibited under this Act or as may be prescribed by regulations made pursuant to this Act.Court documents, obtained by journalists, show that the Federal Government last month secured an order from the Federal High Court in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to ban Jamaatu Ahlis-sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, and Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan, also known as JAMBS or Ansaru, from existing or operating in Nigeria.”
The documents obtained from the Registry of the Federal High Court and signed by the Registrar Ashada Babatunde, show that the proscription order was granted by Justice A. Abdu Kafarati on 25 May.
Boko Haram and Ansaru have killed thousands of people in northern Nigeria through suicide bombings and frequent gun attacks.Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau last week called on Islamists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to join the bloody fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.
The US State Department’s rewards also target Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), offering its first ever bounties for wanted militants in west Africa.
Up to $5 million was posted for Al-Qaeda veteran Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist behind the devastating attack on an Algerian gas plant in January in which 37 foreigners, including three Americans, were killed.
A further $5 million was offered for top AQIM leader Yahya Abou Al-Hammam, reportedly involved in the 2010 murder of an elderly French hostage in Niger.
Malik Abou Abdelkarim, a senior fighter with AQIM, and Oumar Ould Hamaha, the spokesman for Mali’s Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), were also targeted by the rewards programme, which will give up to $3 million each for information leading to their arrests.
“AQIM has been increasingly active in north and west Africa. They’re one of the pre-eminent kidnap for ransom groups in the terrorist world right now,” a senior State Department official told AFP, asking not to be named.
“They cause us a great deal of concern. Anything that we can do naturally to cut down on the capabilities of AQIM, anything that we can do to get information on these people so that we can get them in front of a court… That is our goal.”
The United States has been increasingly worried about the spread of Islamist groups in Mali and across the vast and lawless Sahel since a military coup ousted the government in Bamako.