The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions against the leader of Nigeria’s Islamist Boko Haram militant organisation and its splinter group, a month after the powerful UN body designated the dreaded outfit as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda.
The Security Council’s al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee approved the addition of Boko Haram chief Abubakar Mohammed Shekau and the splinter group Ansaru to its list of individuals and entities subject to the targeted financial sanctions and the arms embargo.
“The Committee stresses the need for robust implementation of the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Regime as a significant tool in combating terrorist activity, and urges all Member States to participate actively by nominating for listing additional individuals, groups, undertakings and entities which should be subject to the sanctions measures,” a statement said.
As a result of the new listings, any individual or entity that provides financial or material support to Ansaru and Shekau, including the provision of arms or recruits, is eligible to be added to the Al-Qaeda Sanctions List and subject to the sanctions measures.
The statement added that under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram has maintained a relationship with the Organisation of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and gained knowledge on the construction of improvised explosive devices from AQIM.
A number of Boko Haram members fought alongside al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Mali in 2012 and 2013 before returning to Nigeria with terrorist expertise.
Under Shekau, Boko Haram carried out a series of major terrorist attacks, including a wave of bombings in Nigeria in 2012 that killed more than 180 people.
Ansaru is an armed splinter group of Boko Haram and has carried out terrorist attacks in Nigeria.
The group shares ideological similarities with AQIM and maintains operational connections with the group including training and attack planning.
Ansaru’s attacks typically target non-Nigerian civilians living or working in Nigeria and Nigerian security personnel.
Last month, the sanctions committee had designated Boko Haram as a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda, slapping sanctions and imposing an arms embargo on the militant group that has kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls.
The militant group has been condemned globally for its abduction of the girls from their school in Chibok in April.
Shekau had claimed responsibility for the abduction in a video released by Boko Haram and has threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin”, has been carrying out targeted attacks in recent years against schools, police, religious leaders, politicians, public and international institutions, indiscriminately killing civilians, including dozens of children.