El-Rufai, Keyamo: probe $9.3m cash

THE NATION Newspaper- Yusuf Alli and Joseph Jibueze

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, raised yesterday posers on the $9.3million arms deal.

He said the botched arms procurement might not be for the purpose of national security.

El-Rufai alleged that the Boko Haram insurgency benefited President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The ex-minister, who spoke in a statement through his Media Adviser, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, asked the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, why his private jet was used for the arms errand.

Said he: “It is pertinent that we invite the Federal Government to reflect on its role in this episode. Our country needs to bolster its military and security forces with the material resources it needs to defeat insurgency and restore security. This will require arms imports.

“But should Nigeria violate the arms export regulations of other countries in this endeavour? Should the Federal Government recklessly impair and jeopardise diplomatic relations by conducting covert arms purchases in friendly countries without the consent of their governments?

“Such conduct invariably leads to suspicions that such covert arms procurement may not be for the purposes of national security.”

El-Rufai urged Nigerians to show more interest in the arms deal than the position of the Federal Government.

The statement added: “This instance of arms procurement outside official channels amid an escalating insurgency must concern every patriot.

“In his House of Commons statement last week, Mallam El-Rufai alluded to the clear implications of the likely link between governmental murkiness and the escalation in the insurgency.

“The government has tried to explain away its incompetence in upholding security by blaming insurgency on the major opposition party.”

The former FCT minister alleged that the Boko Haram insurgency was benefiting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The statement said: “But it is becoming increasingly clear to many that this insurgency is benefiting the ruling party and the incumbent president by providing them a pretext to postpone elections and, at the minimum, disenfranchise large swathes of the population that have never supported the PDP or voted for Jonathan.

“Mallam Nasir El-Rufai urges every Nigerian to be vigilant in these troubled times. The tragedy of mindless terror should not be allowed to become an endless catastrophe because of narrow political calculations.”

The ex-minister tackled the CAN President, Pastor Oritsejafor, on the involvement of the cleric’s private jet in the botched arms deal.

The statement said: “Since abuse is not argument and is incapable of displacing fact, Oritsejafor may care to answer if the jet involved in the scandal is the same one that was “donated” to him in 2012?”

An activist-lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo and a group, Societal Rights Advancement and development Initiative (ASRADI), have described the Federal Government’s defence of the $9.3million (about N1.5billion) found on two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen in South Africa as “unjustifiable”.

Keyamo said the government’s claim that the cash was meant for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency and that the transaction was done by cash to ensure the speed of the transaction “is a cock and bull story.”

He said the government’s position was not only ludicrous, it was also laughable and untenable.

“The truth is, any transaction the world over that is done by cash, in a huge volume like this and in this manner, can only point to one thing: It is an illegal transaction or a transaction for an illegal purpose that is meant to be untraceable.”

ASRADI, in a statement by its Executive Director, Adeolu Oyinlola, demanded a full scale public inquiry into how a government department or agency would carry loads of cash in a private jet overseas, ostensibly to transact official business.

“While we do not intend to set an agenda for the proposed enquiry, ASRADI believes the following posers would assist in unravelling how the surreptitious trip to South Africa was hatched and embarked upon.

“How often does money get spirited out of Nigeria in this clandestine manner? How was the cash sourced? Was the money appropriated by the National Assembly? If, as we are assuming, the cash came from the Central Bank of Nigeria, how regularly does this happen?”


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