Arms deal: I exchanged $322m to Dasuki, says Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala  former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Wednesday said she exchanged $322m from the plundered assets recouped from the previous Head of State, the late Gen. Sani Abacha, to the Office of the National Security Adviser for military operations in the North-East.

In a statement issued on her behalf by Paul Nwabuikwu, her spokesman, Okonjo-Iweala described Oshiomhole’s allegation as “falsehood”, alleging that he was conniving with “powerful and corrupt interests” to tarnish her reputation.

She said that Samdo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), was part of a committee that deliberated on the use of repatriated funds looted by the late Sani Abacha, and that he requested for the deployment of about $322m for the military operations, which she processed after receiving assurances that the money would be well-managed.

The statement read: “As part of the campaign of falsehood against former minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala by Edo Governor, Adams Oshiomhole and other powerful and corrupt interests, another baseless story has been published by some online media.

“To achieve their evil propaganda objective of tarnishing her name, these evil elements have distorted the contents of a memo dated January 20, 2015 in which the former minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, responded to a request by the former national security adviser, Col Ibrahim Dasuki (retired), for funds to prosecute the terror war against Boko Haram.

“Here are the facts:

“The central responsibility of the minister of finance IS to find sources of funding for the financing of approved national priorities such as security, job creation and infrastructure.

“It will be recalled that throughout 2014, there were public complaints by the military hierarchy to President Goodluck Jonathan about the inadequacy of funds to fight the anti-terror war in the north-east, resulting in Boko Haram making gains and even taking territories.

A lot of the criticism was directed at the federal ministry of finance under Dr Okonjo-Iweala which was accused of not doing enough to find funds for the operations.

“In fact, the ministry, on several occasions, had to call press conferences to provide details of budgetary spending on the military, to show, against the background of limited resources and other urgent national priorities, that it was doing its best on funding security.

“It was about this time that some new Abacha funds of about $322m were returned with another $700m still expected to be returned. (This is not to be confused with the Abacha funds returned in 2005-2006 under the Obasanjo government whose use for developmental purposes was monitored by the World Bank as earlier explained by Dr Okonjo-Iweala).

“Former President Jonathan set up a committee comprising of the former minister of justice, former NSA and the former minister of finance to determine how best to use both the returned and expected funds for development.

“The NSA made a case for using the returned funds for urgent security operations since, he noted, there cannot be any development without peace and security. Based on this, a decision was taken to deploy about $322m for the military operations, while the expected $700m would be applied for development programmes as originally conceived.

“Following the discussions and based on the urgency of the NSA’s memo, Dr Okonjo-Iweala requested the president to approve the transfer of the requested amount to the NSA’s office for the specified purposes.

“But, as captured in the memo, she insisted on three conditions: a. only a part, not the entire Abacha funds would be spent on the arms; the rest would be invested in developmental projects as originally conceived

The money was to be treated as borrowed funds which would be paid back as soon as possible

It was gathered that documents at the CBN have established that the $15 million cash which the office of the NSA ferried for the purchase of arms and was seized by the South African Government was part of the Abacha loot. The country is yet to refund the cash to Nigeria.

It was also learnt that part of the Abacha loot was used to secure the services of mercenaries and guerrillas from some countries to assist in re-taking 22 Nigerian territories in the North-East from Boko Haram.

The government at the time had engaged some of the foreign fighters to train troops in anti-terrorism warfare, intelligence gathering and counter terrorism which enabled them recover the lost territories from the insurgents. In spite of that, it never admitted using any of them for any of its operations.

Already, eight of the suspects have been charged with stealing, money laundering and breach of the Public Procurement Act, while none of them is yet to be released even on bail. Okonjo-Iweala helped Jonathan loot stolen funds, Oshiomhole insists However,

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State yesterday continued his verbal assault on former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the governor alleged that the ex-minister only helped the past administration to loot funds.

Oshiomhole who was the guest speaker at a dialogue session that was co-organised by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Abuja yesterday to commemorate the International Human Rights Day, urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to spare the former Minister who he branded “Ali Baba”. The Edo State governor spoke on a topic entitled “Towards Advancing the Right to Social Security Protection in Nigeria”. Speaking to journalists at the end of his presentation,

Oshiomhole, maintained that Okonjo-Iweala has serious questions to answer with regards to what happened to looted funds that were recovered from former military dictator, General Sani Abacha. He said it was not enough for the former minister to “sit there in Washington”, and say that she “transferred part of the money recovered from Abacha to Dasuki for security purpose”. “All I am just saying is that we are in a constitutional democracy.

We are not under an informal arrangement. When you listen to all the narratives, all the disclosures and defence, you will realise that the Federal Government needs to prosecute everybody, not to exempt anyone. “For example I have read in the newspapers and online, the former Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy saying that she transferred part of the money recovered from Abacha to Dasuki for security purposes. “Now, the first question the media should ask is, even under conditions of war, money must be appropriated. The National Assembly, I recall very well, when Aminu Tambuwal was Speaker of the House of Representatives, they reconvened on Sunday in order to attend to an urgent matter submitted by the President.

So, the Constitution is very clear. “Money was looted and foreign countries helped us recover that money and a minister assisted in ensuring that that money is re-looted again. And she is there in Washington and you are here languishing. I am saying that she also must be brought to justice”, the Edo governor said.


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