The Federal Government has broken silence on the seized $15 million that was meant for the purchase of arms for the Nigeria Intelligence Service by the South African government.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Communication, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who spoke on the seizure on Sunday, said the Federal Government has been silent on the issue because they cannot share all information about the issue with the general public since it is a security matter.
He said the Nigerian government was actually expecting some quiet innocent support, but expressed surprise that Nigerians want to discuss security issues openly and publicly when a war is still going on.
“These are very serious national security affairs and running a government is not the same thing as running a Shoprite, where everything is on the table and on display. There is nothing shady about the South African deal and the Office of the NSA has done very well because at the appropriate time, they came in that, ‘yes, this money belongs to us and this was what it was meant for;’ that explanation itself was okay. There is no hanky panky on this matter,” he said.
Okupe cleared the air that the second controversial deal has legitimized the first because it was a normal banking transaction.
“A company was mandated to do a national security assignment for the Federal Government of Nigeria and because of the extant laws in South Africa, that company was unable to deliver its contractual agreement with the Nigerian government; the company now wants a refund which is normal,” Okupe said.
However, the presidency exonerated Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the national president of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, from alleged involvement of his aircraft in the controversial $9.3m arms deal in South Africa.
“The linking of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is the most unfortunate thing; to put the very respectable, responsible, honest and sincere President of CAN in this matter is the extreme of mischief. It just shows you what Nigerians do, they go to any extent to politicize everything. What bothers me here is the manner with which people want to bring down Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor on this matter. It is pure absurdity. Oritsejafor has no business in this matter. It is true that he owns the aircraft but there are over 200 private Nigerians who have jets. Apart from those who use it frequently, some give it out to get some money and defray some of the costs. If you put your jet down, you pay money and parking charges everyday. He gave the private jet to a company to manage. The company is handling it and these people gave out the plane that is available. What has this to do with Oritsejafor? If I have many cars at the airport and decide to give one to car hire services and he decides to carry somebody having Indian hemp, will you link it up with the man who gave it out? Excuse me, this is ridiculous,” Okupe said.
Okupe, however, urged Nigerians to stop playing politics with every national issues saying, it was bad and unpatriotic.
It would be recalled that on September 5, 2014, two Nigerians and an Israeli attempted to smuggle the sum of $9.3 million conveyed in a private jet into South Africa which was seized by the country’s authorities. Three weeks after, another $5.7 million was confiscated by the South African government when a South African company that was contracted to help purchase military hardware and fire arms by an Abuja based company tried to pay back the money.
Meanwhile, on October 11, 2014, a renowned Lagos based legal practitioner, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), advised the Federal Government on what to do about the seized $15 million arms purchase money.