Boko Haram: Coffers and Coffins; A Pandora's Box - the Vast Financing Options for Boko Haram

Bank Robberies and General Theft from Nigerian Military

Image:  2013 Rivers State Police Command thwarts a robberty attack targeted at one of the leading commercial banks in the State.  A cache of weapons was recovered from three vehicles hidden at a mechanic village in Ihugbo. The weapons recovered include:

  • Two (2) General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG) with five hundred and ninety three (593) rounds of GPMG  ammunition;
  • Eight (8) AK–47 rifles with one thousand, six hundred and thirty five (1635) rounds of AK-47 ammunition and 57 magazines;
  • One (1) G3 rifle with magazine;
  • Two (2) dynamites with detonators and other explosives canes;
  • Two Gas cylinders with welding accessories
  • One sledge hammer, one axe and
  • Three (3) vehicles in which the weapons were concealed: Volvo S40 car, Mercedes-Benz Saloon car and a Nissan Pathfinder Jeep.


Sharp Rise in Bank Robberies across Nigeria

Boko Haram’s successful expansion also explains the sharp rise in the numbers of bank robberies in Nigeria. In 2011 alone, roughly 100 banks were attacked; over 30 of these were directly attributed to Boko Haram.  On February 20, 2013, seven Boko Haram members were charged with bank robberies during 2011. In one incident the accused robbed the Unity Bank of Nigeria Plc, Alkalari branch, carting away the sum of N17.8 million.  Boko Haram gains from bank robberies are estimated at $6 million.

Theft of Nigerian Military Supplies

Boko Haram’s access to Nigerian military arms and uniforms is attributed to two sources: theft and collaboration with Nigerian military officials. Dressed in official uniforms allows Boko Haram fighters to move more feely, launch surprise attacks, and set road blocks without raising suspicion. On 15 March 2014 Boko Haram fighters launched a surprise assault on the 21st Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army dressed in Nigerian military uniforms.  On 19 October 2013 Boko Haram gunmen dressed in military uniforms killed 19 people near the Nigerian border with Cameroon by blocking a highway. During June 2013, the Nigerian Defense Force received 10 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) from the Borno State Governor. Within a year, Boko Haram video footage included Boko Haram units equipped with APCs. How these were attained is speculative, but does seem to support theft as an effective pipeline of arms to the group.

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