President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the arrest of the former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) for allegedly stealing some $2bn meant for procurement of weapons for the Nigerian Armed Forces in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The order follows submission of an interim report by the 13-man committee set up by President Buhari to investigate and audit the procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces and Defence sector from 2007 to 2015.
However, reacting to Wednesday’s order for his arrest, Dasuki who is already under house arrest enforced by the Department of State Security (DSS) despite two separate court rulings against it, maintains his innocence at the charges, insisting that he was never invited to defend himself before the panel investigating the case.
Col. Dasuki, the security aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, is accused of awarding phantom contracts for the purchase of 12 helicopters, four fighter jets and ammunition meant for the fight against Boko Haram Islamist militants.
Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said in a statement that the corruption resulted in the needless deaths of thousands of Nigerians, as country’s soldiers have long complained that despite huge sums of money being spent on military hardware they were ill equipped to fight Boko Haram.
Dasuki, Wednesday, however, reacted to the order by President Buhari, maintaining that he had never been invited to appear before the weapon procurement investigative panel, which made the allegations.
“I have never been invited formally or informally to appear before the panel. I am therefore not only surprised but embarrassed by seeming indictment by the panel… that never contacted me,” Dasuki is quoted as saying in a statement.
“For the record I am proud to serve my nation with the best of intention and ensuring the recovery of more than 22 local government councils from Boko Haram terrorists.
“Because of the pride on how we tackled terrorism and defeated Boko Haram terrorists through our gallant troops and partners in the twilight of the previous administration, that is the reason I have insisted on open and public trial of my stewardship rather than secret trial in the court as being canvassed by my prosecutors.
“I wish Nigerians will go back and reflect on what we did with even little or no supports from some countries, we performed miracles before the emergence of this administration. Even though the committee was to investigate procurement from 2007 to 2015. Yet only my name is always being mentioned even when some of the issues were before I came into the government,” said Dasuki.
According to him, ‘some of the issues being mentioned occurred even before he came to office.’
The panel was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate arms procurement from 2007 to 2015.
Dasuki was already under house arrest when the president issued the order for his arrest.
The court for that trial had ordered for his passport to be released for him to be able to travel to the United Kingdom for treatment for suspected prostate cancer.
It was expected that the trial would continue on his return. However, the government refused to let him leave the country.
Claims by soldiers that they are better equipped since President Buhari came into office, are refuted by counter-claims by the previous president’s supporters who insist that this is because those weapons were ordered while Goodluck Jonathan was in power.