$9.3m deal: Northern Muslims accuse FG of cover-up

2014-09-23
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Godwin Isenyo



The apex body of Muslims in the North, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, on Monday in Kaduna asked the nation’s anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to probe the controversial $9.3m impounded by the South African authorities.

The said $9.3m was smuggled into Johannesburg, South Africa, by two Nigerians and an Israeli in a private jet the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has a stake in.

The money was said to be meant for the procurement of arms for intelligence agencies in Nigeria.

The money, valued about R102m, was frozen by the South African authorities. Ever since, controversies had continued to trail the smuggled money, with fingers allegedly pointing at the CAN president.

But the JNI, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu-Abubakar, queried the circumstances surrounding the $9.3m allegedly meant for the procurement of arms for the government, asking relevant bodies to probe the deal.

The religious body noted that it was imperative for the government or its agents to clear the air on the smuggled money, rather than allowing unguarded utterances to take pre-eminence in the ongoing controversies surrounding the deal.

JNI said, “Our senators at the upper chamber and representatives members at the lower chamber must rise to the occasion for special discussion on the matter as urgent public interest revolves round it, as it relates to threat to national security.

“EFCC must wholly play its role in this direction by prosecuting those involved to adequately face the wrath of the law. It doesn’t matter whose ox is gored.

“All relevant government agencies must also discharge their responsibilities without fear or favour, showing the world that our country is serious.

“For its internal and external integrity, government must stay off dabbling into issues which the Nigerian Law had properly addressed. We have been saying that certain elements are now fond of breaking the law with impunity, feeling super and above the law.”

The body noted further that it smell the rat in the way and manner in which the Federal Government attempted to cover-up the entire failed deal, adding that there was more to the explanation given by the government on the matter.

They queried, “The following posers are instructive: Is government short of official agents which necessitates assigning non official ones? Why was any of the planes in the Presidential fleet of jets not used?

“With the current trend of cashless financial transaction why is such a huge amount carried in cash? Isn’t arms deals executed via third party?

“Where is the Ministry of Defense and the office of the National Security Adviser? Was due process followed through relevant government agencies? Are bilateral matters dealt with in that way?”

The JNI while appealing that justice be done by all concerned in order to serve as a deterrent to those who feel they are above the law, insisted that the government should release the real fact on the issue

The body added, “We at the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) are in disbelief over the recent news at both national and international media of impounding of a private jet in South Africa, laden with $9.3m in cash, purportedly to buy arms in that country.

“What is more shocking is the said government’s full knowledge of it, despite its illegality and the attempt to intervene in such a scandalous matter which attracts the full weight of the law to address. There is more to the explanation given by the government on the matter.

“Therefore government should tell Nigerians the real fact on the issue. We hope the matter will not be wheedled with. However, we note with dismay the unguarded utterances of some leaders that they will call on their followers to defend themselves. Also we note the uncourteous speeches attacking other leaders, which leave much to be desired and overheat the polity.”

 

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