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NFIU Unveils IPOB’s Global Network: 22 countries, 27 cells exposed

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NFIU Unveils IPOB’s Global Network: 22 countries, 27 cells exposed

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The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has unveiled the extensive global network of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), with 27 cells identified across 22 countries worldwide, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

According to a Counter Terrorism Financing Newsletter dated 26th February 2024, the US and UK host the largest number of IPOB cells per country, with seven and six operational cells respectively.

The Federal Government in 2017 designated IPOB as a terrorist organization. Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader, is currently facing terrorism charges in Nigeria.

The NFIU’s investigation links IPOB’s operations to 54 individuals globally. It revealed that IPOB’s diaspora affiliates have established a presence in various countries, operating under different entities and bank accounts to facilitate their activities.

The report highlights the group’s reliance on crowdfunding, with funds received from various contributors under the guise of ‘Monthly Dues’, ‘Services’, and support for the Eastern Security Network (ESN), among other purposes. Over $160,000 was disbursed to media and broadcasting companies in Bulgaria, South Africa, and the UK.

The NFIU’s scrutiny extends beyond IPOB, exposing suspicious financial activities with potential links to terrorism. One case involves a 24-year-old Nigerian customer suspected of receiving ransom money from kidnapping activities through a betting platform.

In another instance, a terrorist sought to evade detection by making structured cash withdrawals, purchasing flight tickets to high-risk areas, and transferring funds to charities associated with terrorism. These transactions, along with expenditures on luxury goods and escort services, raised red flags.

The NFIU’s Counter Terrorism Financing Newsletter urges law enforcement agencies to investigate transactions by individuals linked to known terrorists or financiers, unauthorised tax collection, and forced donations in terrorism-prone areas.

It also highlights the role of Bureau de Change operators in facilitating suspicious transfers within suspected networks.

Security agencies are called upon to monitor multiple cash deposits, Point of Sale transactions followed by cash withdrawals, money transfers to high-risk countries, and the recruitment of individuals to open multiple bank accounts.

Additionally, financial transfers to charities linked to terrorism demand increased scrutiny.