Boko Haram, Ansaru Banned
Boko Haram and Ansaru, Nigeria’s terror groups have been banned and members would bag up to 20-year jail term, reports said on Monday, the same day the United States was offering rewards for the first time for information on Islamist militants in North and West Africa.
The US said up to $7million (about N1billion) 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).
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.
With the court order, Nigerians who belong or profess to belong to Boko Haram or Ansaru are liable to 20 years imprisonment while those who assist, provide logistics, or even attend their meetings would be jailed d 10 years.
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. The government was said to have invoked Section 2 of “The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2011” in approaching the court.
Sources said the government obtained the court order to secure a legal backing for its ongoing military operations against terrorists in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
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.