$9.3m Cash Seizure: Senate C’ttee Summons Service Chiefs, NSA, APC Calls for Probe
Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), National Security Adviser (NSA)
Omololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja â€¨
Omololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja â€¨
The Senate Committee on Defence yesterday summoned the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshall Alex Badeh; and Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Kenneth Minimah, to tell the committee all they know about the $9.3 million cash smuggled into South Africa by two Nigerians and an Israeli for an arms deal.
The sum was flown in a private aircraft into South Africa last week in violation of customs and currency declaration laws of the country.
The sum was consequently seized by the South African authorities while the two Nigerians and Israeli found in possession of the cash were arrested.
As a fallout, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator George Sekibo, disclosed yesterday that the committee had summoned the NSA, CDS and COAS to appear before it next Tuesday to brief it on the mystery surrounding the money, more so given the claim that the amount was meant for the execution of an arms deal.
According to Sekibo, summoning the trio had become imperative with a view to avoiding building on assumptions and thereby committing the fallacy of hasty generalisations.
“I have just called the Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser and Chief of Army Staff. I don’t want to pre-empt issues because I have not heard details about it but they will be here on Tuesday next week,” he said.
Sekibo also said the death sentence passed on the 12 soldiers found guilty of mutiny by the Nigerian Army was not surprising, adding that soldiers know the implication of mutiny from their point of entry into the armed forces.
He said before the judgment was passed, the army must have carried out a thorough investigation into the matter.
Also reacting to the $9.3 million smuggled into South Africa, the All Progressives Congress (APC) called on the National Assembly to launch an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the undeclared cash along with the Nigerian aircraft.
APC also described the silence of the National Assembly on the issue as deafening, unfathomable and unacceptable.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also called on Jonathan to come clean on the circumstances surrounding the $9.3 million, “which has become the latest in a series of global ridicule to which the scandal-prone Jonathan administration has subjected Nigeria and her people”.
It said there was no doubt that the president was at the centre of the whole issue, considering the presidential treatment given to the plane and its cargo, since the plane departed the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, away from the reach of the Nigerian Customs Service which could not therefore have cleared the plane and its passengers.
“It is absolutely urgent for President Jonathan to clear the air on this alleged off-the-shelf equipment or arms purchase, which runs against all known protocol for such purchases anywhere in the world.
“Military equipment and weapons are not bean cakes to be purchased by the road side. There are globally acceptable protocols for such purchases by governments, otherwise what differentiates a government from an insurgent group that is shopping for arms?
“Is the Jonathan administration not aware that the UN General Assembly on April 2nd 2013 adopted a landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) precisely to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons by avoiding the kind of roadside purchase that the Nigerian government is said to have been involved in?
“Though the ATT has not come into effect, the fact that Nigeria is among the few countries to have signed and ratified the treaty shows that the country is concerned by unregulated arms trade,” APC said.
The party said the resort to “procedural error” to explain away the whole issue cannot work, because the Nigerian authorities cannot pretend not to be aware that any currency brought into or taken from South Africa is monitored by law, and that anyone bringing into that country more than R25,000 in South African currency or U$10,000 or the equivalent thereof in foreign currency must declare such.
It said those who are using “procedural error” as an alibi are being clever by half, “because if entering or leaving a country with an undeclared $9.3 million is a mere ‘procedural error’, why was Sule Lamido’s son convicted for not declaring a mere $50,000 at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport?”
APC said in the spirit of fairness, it has decided to give Jonathan and the government he heads the opportunity to make the urgently needed clarifications by answering a number of questions relating to the $9.3 million scandal:
“Is the money indeed meant to purchase a helicopter as has been reported? To which arm of government or security force does the money belong? Who appropriated it and for what purpose? Why was the money being ferried in cash by the same government that has been spending huge time and money to promote a cashless policy? Is the resort to cash to avoid a paper trail for the transaction, in which case it is illegal?
“Mr. President, we are aware that each arm of security has an account with the CBN for the purpose of arms purchase and such transactions are properly documented, so why was this not the case in this instance?
“Mr. President, why did it take your government all of 10 days to admit its involvement in this scandal, considering that the embarrassing incident happened since September 5th and was not known until September 15th?
“Does this saga not give credence to the widely held view that you are indeed benefitting from the Boko Haram insurgency and that you have deliberately allowed it to escalate to this level?
“Mr. President, has this saga not confirmed the suspicion that your 2015 re-election bid has been factored into your handling of the Boko Haram insurgency?
“Has this saga not given more credence to revelations that the sponsors of Boko Haram are those closest to the president? Has this saga not finally confirmed that the president knows more than he is telling the nation about the sudden escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency, especially in the run up to the 2015 elections?
“Mr. President, has this saga not confirmed that powerful forces in your administration are all working in concert to use the Boko Haram insurgency to secure a tenure extension for you?
“Is it not clear now why the senate president infamously declared two days ago that the election was not on the table since the country is in a state of war?
“Have we not been proven right in our declaration at the panel discussion at the British House of Commons on September 8th, 2014 that the Jonathan administration will attempt to cash in on the Boko Haram insurgency to postpone elections?”
The party said the answers to the questions raised would go a long way in showing Nigerians that their government is clandestinely buying equipment and weapons to fuel the Boko Haram insurgency and then profit from its own act of perfidy.
It said while the president is compiling his answers to the posers, he should ask his spokespersons to stop adding insult to injury by saying the CIA, FBI, Mossad also travel abroad with undeclared cash, in clear violation of the laws of their destination countries, to buy arms.