By Aishat Babatunde
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), on Wednesday, said it had uncovered the person who accused it of collecting money from a terrorist group, the Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP).
ISWAP is a splinter of Boko-Haram that has been causing unrest in North-eastern Nigeria for over a decade now.
MURIC had in a statement, on Tuesday, denied affiliations with any terrorist group in or outside Nigeria, following an accusation it said was made against it by an unnamed person.
MURIC director, Ishaq Akintola, described the allegation as illogical, saying that the group has always condemned every act of terror, whether it happened in or outside Nigeria.
“The motto of MURIC is ‘dialogue, not violence’. So how can we descend so low as to collect money from terrorists? Such lies will not fly.
“The terrorists themselves know that we can never support them. How can they give us money? The allegation is dead on arrival,” Mr Akintola said.
The MURIC head appealed to the federal government to investigate the source of the information, adding that the group has never been involved in any international activity.
Following the allegations, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on his verified Twitter account on Tuesday, called for an investigation into the matter.
Mr Fani-Kayode urged the federal government to declare MURIC a terrorist organisation if the allegation is true.
The allegation by a fmr. Head of Intelligence of Mali that the Ishaq Akintola-led MURIC is funded by ISWA is grave. I call on the FG to investigate this matter &, if proved to be true, declare MURIC a terrorist org., ban it, prosecute its leaders &, if found guilty, hang them.
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) August 11, 2020
His tweet read: “The allegation by a fmr. Head of Intelligence of Mali that the Ishaq Akintola-led MURIC is funded by ISWAP is grave.
“I called on the federal government to investigate this matter &, if proved to be true, declare MURIC a terrorist org., ban it, prosecute its leaders &, if found guilty, hang them.”
MURIC said it does not oppose investigations as requested by Mr Fani-Kayode.
It, however, insisted that the whole story was fake news triggered by Islamophobia.
On Wednesday, Mr Akintola in another statement said the group had unravelled the identity of the person who accused it. He named him as Layo Akinlade, who he claimed was a retired major of the Nigerian Army.
PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately confirm the allegation.
ISWAP is an affiliate of the faded Islamic State (ISIS) and a Boko-Haram faction that has continued waging a guerrilla war across north-eastern Nigeria and elsewhere on Lake Chad’s periphery.
There have been growing concerns about their terror attacks in North-eastern Nigeria and the Nigerian army’s capabilities to contain the attacks, just as the country battles security challenges in other parts.
ISWAP has caused real pain to the Nigerian military, its primary target, overrunning dozens of army bases and killing hundreds of soldiers and civilians since August 2018, the International Crisis Group said.
In June, PREMIUM TIMES reported how at least 20 soldiers and more than 40 civilians were killed, and hundreds injured in twin attacks in Monguno and Nganzai areas of Borno State by the terrorists, days after they killed 81 people in a raid on a village in a third area, Gubio.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) attributed ISWAP’s growing influence to the cultivation of support among local civilians by turning neglected communities into a source of economic support.
The group appears to pay dividends to its estimated 3,500-5,00 members; it treats local civilians in some ways better than the Nigerian state, the global crisis monitoring said in a report.
It added that the terrorist group digs wells, polices cattle rustling and provides a modicum of health care for the people.
To whittle down the terrorists’ influence, the ICG urged the Nigerian government to improve governance and services in the region alongside military efforts.
President Muhammadu Buhari, amid calls for the sack of his Service Chiefs for their failure to contain security challenges, again met with members of the Nigeria Governors Forum Security Council and the military chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday.