By Emmanuel Adesuji, Abuja.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) Wednesday demanded explanation from the President Goodluck Jonathan led federal government, the alleged involvement of former Niger-Delta militant and leader of the Niger-Delta Volunteer Force, Mr. Asari Dokubo, in the $9.3million dollar arms deal that has gone awry in South Africa.
APC revealed that Asari was one of the two Nigerians arrested along with an Israeli by South Africa’s airport officials mid-September with an undeclared $9.3 million stashed in suitcases for the purchase of arms and ammunition on behalf of the federal government.
The private jet used to carry the cash is owned by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor, who has since denied knowledge of the transaction, explaining that he had leased the aircraft to a third party.
The identity of the two Nigerians had not been known until now that Dokubo was one being mentioned by the opposition party as one of the two men detained by South African authorities.
As the issue became public discussion, the Nigerian government admitted it was in charge of the transaction and that it was normal practice to procure arms with cash, insisting that it had submitted relevant data and documents on the transaction to the South African investigators, as proof of its legitimacy.
The federal government said it decided to buy the arms secretly because the U.S. government had allegedly blocked its efforts to buy arms openly.
South African investigators, however, said that the explanations given about the money were flawed and riddled with discrepancies.
Just as the matter was yet to be sorted out, another $5.7 million wired through the bank, purportedly meant for the purchase of arms, was seized Monday.
But the APC, on Wednesday asked President Jonathan to explain to Nigerians why Dokubo, who has severally threatened that there would be bloodshed if Jonathan was not re-elected, should be allowed to purchase arms on behalf of the federal government.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Lai Mohammed, reacting on Wednesday to the revelation that the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, issued the end-user certificate for the arms purchase, said the presidential aide is not constitutionally authorized to purchase arms for any of the armed services.
“Under our Constitution, the NSA is an adviser and has no executive powers to deploy troops from any of the services or purchase arms for them. That the arms purported to be purchased from South Africa were ordered from the office of the NSA is nothing but a mere fabrication, and raises serious questions about the motive for the purchase.
“Nigerians will therefore like to know on whose behalf Asari Dokubo was purchasing arms. This is very crucial because Asari Dokubo has been threatening that Nigeria will not know peace if his benefactor, President Jonathan, is not re-elected. Therefore, Nigerians will like to know whether he has started stockpiling arms to make his threat a reality, since elections are due in a few months’ time.
“If these arms are meant to fight insurgency, as the government has claimed, what is Asari Dokubo’s business purchasing arms for the Nigerian military, if indeed they were for the military? Does it not occur to the Nigerian government that this man who once took arms against the state may not have jettisoned his sinister plan against the same state? Which country will ever allow a man who once carried arms against the state to now be purchasing arms for the same state?” it further stated.
Adding: “Even if it is true that he is purchasing the arms for the state, what prevents him from also using the opportunity to purchase arms for his own sinister motive? Could this be why Asari Dokubo has been talking publicly and confidently, without official censure, that President Jonathan must be re-elected or Nigeria will not know peace again?
“In our Press Release on Tuesday, we again asked President Jonathan to come clean on the US$9.3 million and US$5.7 million deals. We also asked him to tell Nigerians the identity of the two Nigerians who were on the plane that illegally ferried money to South Africa. Now that the Nigerians are known, and they are the President’s men, the story has taken a new dimension,” APC stated.
The party also called on the media, in pursuance of its constitutional role of a watchdog, not to relent in exposing the circumstances surrounding the cash-for-arms deals, which it said, have caused the country great embarrassment.