The United States of America has described some aspects of the law on terrorism in Nigeria as weak.
The position of the US, contained in the Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, noted that one of the weakest aspects is the delay in the trial of suspected terrorists.
It cited the example of the trial of the suspects behind the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State in 2011, which was still ongoing as at the time of compiling the report late in 2012.
The United States of America also faulted the delay in the freezing of assets of suspected terrorists.
The country said it takes up to a month before action is taken by the Nigerian Government whenever information is passed to it about assets of suspected terrorists that needed to be frozen.
It adduced the delay to the long process adopted by Nigeria in carrying out the freezing of the assets.
The report also noted that the Nigerian Government has only adopted the use of force in quelling terrorism rather than the two pronged approach of meeting the needs of the people in the North and use of the military to contain the terrorists.
It said even in using force, the military a lot of times oversteps its bounds during operations.
The report, which was released on Thursday, however, commended the Nigerian Government for stepping up the fight against terrorism.
The aspect of the report on Nigeria reads: Overview: The militant sect “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,” better known by its Hausa name Boko Haram (BH), conducted killings, bombings, kidnappings, and other attacks in Nigeria, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and the widespread destruction of property in 2012. The states where attacks occurred more frequently included Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, and Yobe, as well as the Federal Capital Territory. No terrorist attacks occurred in the southern states of Nigeria. Suspected BH attackers killed Nigerian government and security officials, Muslim and Christian clerics, journalists, and civilians. Of particular concern to the United States is the emergence of the BH faction known as “Ansaru,” which has close ties to AQIM and has prioritized targeting Westerners – including Americans – in Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan appointed a new National Security Adviser (NSA) in June, with the mandate to improve the Nigerian government’s coordination, communication, and cooperation on counterterrorism matters, both domestically and internationally. Most operations to counter BH were headed up by the military-led Joint Task Force, some members and units of which committed indiscriminate and extrajudicial use of force, including killings of civilians and BH suspects. The Nigerian government’s efforts to address grievances among Northern populations, which include high unemployment and a dearth of basic services, continued to fail, as did the security forces’ efforts to contain BH. The United States called on the Nigerian government to employ a comprehensive security strategy that is not predicated on the use of force, and that also addresses the economic and political exclusion of vulnerable communities in the north.
Nigerian-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation continued in 2012. In practice, the NSA retained the lead as coordinator of the Nigerian government’s counterterrorism strategy. In November, the Nigerian government formally requested assistance from the United States to develop an intelligence fusion center that would be able to streamline coordination and information sharing on counterterrorism matters among key agencies, including the State Security Service (SSS), the intelligence agencies, the national police, and the military. An inaugural working group to develop Nigeria’s intelligence fusion capability, composed of Embassy officials and staff of the Office of the National Security Adviser, met on December 15 to determine how the United States can best support this initiative.
On December 31, 2011, President Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 15 local government areas in Borno, Niger, Plateau, and Yobe states, which remained in effect throughout most of 2012. According to Nigerian government officials, the declaration of a state of emergency gives the government sweeping powers to search and arrest without warrants.
2012 Terrorist Incidents: Elements of BH increased the number and sophistication of attacks in 10 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, with a notable increase in the lethality, capability, and coordination of attacks. Notable terrorist incidents committed by elements of BH, and factions claiming to be BH or affiliated with BH, included:
• On January 20, multiple near-simultaneous attacks in Kano were carried out on at least 12 targets including police stations, an immigration office, and the Kano residence of an Assistant Inspector General of Police. Over 150 persons were killed and hundreds wounded.
• On January 26, a German construction worker was kidnapped on the outskirts of Kano city. On June 1, he was killed by his captors in a raid on the house where he was being held.
• On March 8, an Italian citizen and a British citizen who were kidnapped in May 2010 in Kebbi state, were killed in Sokoto state by their captors during an attempted rescue by Nigerian and British special forces.
• In April, assailants attacked Theatre Hall at Bayero University, Kano, with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and gunshots, killing nearly 20 persons.
• On April 26, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) simultaneously exploded at the offices of This Day newspaper in Abuja and Kaduna, killing five persons and wounding many.
• On June 17, attacks on three churches in Kaduna state killed worshippers and instigated violence throughout the state. At least 10 people were killed and an additional 78 injured in the ensuing riots, as groups barricaded roads, burned mosques, and used machetes to attack and kill. In response, the Kaduna state government imposed a 24-hour curfew and deployed additional security forces; however, violence between Christians and Muslims continued for nearly one week.
• In July, the assassination of three traditional Muslim leaders was attempted in Borno, Yobe, and Kaduna states respectively. None of the targets was killed.
• On July 30, police stations and markets in Sokoto were attacked, resulting in the death of six persons.
• In July and August, churches were targeted in Bauchi, Kaduna, and Kogi states. The total killed in these attacks was 22 persons.
• On December 19, a French engineer was kidnapped in Katsina state, near the Niger border. Ansaru, considered a splinter faction of BH, claimed the kidnapping, and the victim’s whereabouts remained unknown at year’s end.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The weakest aspect of the Prevention of Terrorism Law of 2011 is that it does not clearly delineate the lead agency to investigate suspected terrorist crimes.
The trial of six suspects accused of the Christmas Day 2011 bombing of a Catholic church at Madalla in Niger state began in September and was ongoing at year’s end.
In February, a U.S. District Court sentenced Nigerian national Umar Abdulmutallab to life in prison for his unsuccessful attempt to detonate an explosive aboard a U.S.-flagged air carrier approaching Detroit, Michigan on December 25, 2009. Throughout the trial, the Nigerian government cooperated closely with DHS, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The Nigerian government actively cooperated with the United States and other international partners to prevent further acts of terrorism in Nigeria against U.S. citizens, citizens of third countries, and Nigerian citizens.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Nigeria is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Nigeria was publicly identified by the FATF in February 2010 for strategic anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism deficiencies. In October 2011, Nigeria was named in the FATF Public Statement for its lack of progress in implementing its action plan. In 2012, Nigeria made significant progress in addressing its outstanding deficiencies, including through the adoption of amendments to its Money Laundering (Prevention) Act.
While Nigeria regularly froze the assets of individuals and entities designated under relevant UNSCRs, and others designated by the United States under U.S. domestic designation authorities only, delays sometimes occurred. All requests to freeze assets must first be sent to the National Security Adviser, who disseminates the information to relevant financial institutions and Nigerian government agencies. Consequently, delays of up to four weeks occasionally occurred before authorities would block assets. Nigeria did not monitor non-profit organizations to prevent misuse and terrorist financing.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: At the June 7 Ministerial Plenary Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Nigeria announced it would partner with Switzerland to co-host a Sahel Working Group meeting on combating the financing of terrorism in early 2013. In January, the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force launched three projects under the Integrated Assistance for Counter-Terrorism initiative to support Nigerian government efforts to combat terrorism. Nigeria is a lead member of the Economic Community of West African States and has committed ground forces and logistical support for a possible intervention force in Mali. Through its Office of the National Security Adviser, Nigeria has taken a lead role in initiating a multilateral dialogue between regional countries on how they can better coordinate their efforts to confront networks of terrorist groups that span international borders.
The US Department of State Covering note to Congress
A covering note by the US Department of State to the Congress, said of the report: On May 30, 2013, the State Department submitted Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 to the U.S. Congress as required by law. This report, available on www.state.gov/j/ct, provides the Department of State’s annual assessment of trends and events in international terrorism that occurred from January 1 to December 31, 2012. It includes a strategic assessment, country-by-country breakdowns of counterterrorism efforts, and sections on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.
The 2012 report marks the first year the statistical annex was prepared by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. As a result of differences in data collection methodology with prior versions of the annex prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, the statistics in this report are not directly comparable with data from previous reports.
The following were among the most noteworthy counterterrorism developments in 2012:
A marked resurgence of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hizballah was noted. Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism and Hizballah’s terrorist activity have reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. Both Iran and Hizballah also continued to provide a broad range of support to the Asad regime, as it continues its brutal crackdown against the Syrian people.
The al-Qa’ida (AQ) core in Pakistan continued to weaken. As a result of leadership losses, the AQ core’s ability to direct activities and attacks has diminished, as its leaders focus increasingly on survival.
Tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa have complicated the counterterrorism picture. The AQ core is on a path to defeat, and its two most dangerous affiliates have suffered significant setbacks: Yemen, with the help of armed residents, regained government control over territory in the south that AQAP has seized and occupied since 2011; also, Somali National Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia expelled al-Shabaab from major cities in southern Somalia. Despite these gains, however, recent events in the region have complicated the counterterrorism picture. The dispersal of weapons stocks in the wake of the revolution in Libya, the Tuareg rebellion, and the coup d’état in Mali presented terrorists with new opportunities. The actions of France and African countries, however, in conjunction with both short-term U.S. support to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali and the long-term efforts of the United States via the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, have done much to roll back and contain the threat.
Leadership losses have driven AQ affiliates to become more independent. AQ affiliates are increasingly setting their own goals and specifying their own targets. As receiving and sending funds have become more difficult, several affiliates have increased their financial independence by engaging in kidnapping for ransom operations and other criminal activities.
We are facing a more decentralized and geographically dispersed terrorist threat. Defeating a terrorist network requires us to work with our international partners to disrupt criminal and terrorist financial networks, strengthen rule of law institutions while respecting human rights, address recruitment, and eliminate the safe havens that protect and facilitate this activity. In the long term, we must build the capabilities of our partners and counter the ideology that continues to incite terrorist violence around the world.
Although terrorist attacks occurred in 85 different countries in 2012, they were heavily concentrated geographically. As in recent years, over half of all attacks (55%), fatalities (62%), and injuries (65%) occurred in just three countries: Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.