A high powered special team put together to unravel the mystery behind alleged involvement of President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Ayo Oritsejafor and Alhaji Mujahideen Asari Dokubo in the botched $9.3 million arms deal in South Africa has cleared both men of any complicity in the matter.
A private aircraft belonging to Oritsejafor last month conveyed some unnamed persons and the cash to South Africa ostensibly to purchase arms from the black market to help bolster Nigeria’s fight against terrorists in parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
This led to widespread speculations in the media and sentiments being expressed by politicians on the issue in Nigeria.
Three individuals on board were subsequently briefly detained in South-Africa while the cash was confiscated by that country’s financial authorities.
Weeks later, there were also insinuations that Niger Delta activist, Dokubo was one of those who flew in the plane.
However, authoritative sources have said that a panel set up to investigate the matter cleared the CAN President, while also dismissing allegations that Dokubo was on the flight.
The source said, “A Special Team, comprising security agents, intelligence experts and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs investigated the $9.3m cash-for- arms deal and submitted its report to the Presidency.
“The committee confirmed that the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsajefor had no connection with the transaction.
“It was true that the CAN President’s jet was used but we found out that it was without his knowledge. As at the time in question, the aircraft was on lease. And you may be aware that the lease trend is peculiar to private jet owners in the country.
“It is the view of the committee that Oritsajefor cannot be held liable for any shuttle made by a lease firm.
“As for the manifest of the plane, the committee also discovered that the Niger Delta activist, Mujahedeen Asari Dokubo was not among those on board the transaction aircraft. There was no mention of Dokubo in the manifest presented during the investigation.”
The source expressed surprise that the matter was made public by South African authorities in the first place since an end user certificate duly signed by the Office National Security Adviser was presented by those who were on the plane.
“The committee’s findings revealed that the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) has the statutorily and legitimately mandate to issue end-user certificate for such arms transactions. The imputations surrounding the role of the ONSA were unfounded, baseless and ill-motivated.
The source added that “The decision of South Africa to return $15million to Nigeria lent credence to the legality of the transaction” saying “ Certainly, Nigeria had no case to answer”.
A security expert, Adams Adedara, however told The Street Journal that an independent panel of enquiry should have been constituted by the Federal Government if the presidency had intended a good job to absolve the affected individuals of complicity in the whole embarrassing arms for cash deal in South Africa.
Adedara averred that ”you cant be a judge in your own case”, stressing that government officials that constituted membership of the panel couldn’t have found the president or his friends culpable. He however, pointed out that the lesson must have been learnt now by all concerned that such deals and transactions required transparency and openness without necessarily going to town with the details of the transaction.