About $15B Stolen In Nigeria In Shady Arms Procurement Deals

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

About $15 billion was stolen in Nigeria between 2007 and 2015 through shady arms procurement deals under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, a panel set up by the country’s current President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) revealed that the money was meant for the fight against Boko Haram in the West African nation that witnessed a jump in insurgency since 2009 by the Islamic group, PUNCH reported last week.

In November 2015, Buhari ordered the arrest of the former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, for allegedly stealing more than $2 billion meant to purchase weapons for the military to fight the armed group Boko Haram.

The EFCC has however said that the amount stolen by Dasuki, which he denied, was just one of the fraudulent procurement transactions and more was lost to through such deals.

“We have discovered that the total money in the arms scandal is over $15 billion, not $1.2 billion that was initially discovered. The $2.1 billion was just for one transaction. Many of these military officers set up companies for the purpose of diverting money meant for the prosecution of the anti-insurgency war,” a unnamed source at the commission told PUNCH.

The source added that the commission discovered that top military officers deliberately incorporated companies to divert anti-insurgency funds for their personal uses.

Several public figures, who served in the former administration, have been arrested over the alleged $2 billion arms procurement deal and other corruption allegations, Naij.com reported.

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said in a speech at a university in the southwest city of Ibadan that the alleged $15 billion stolen was “more than half of the current foreign reserves of the country”.

Foreign reserves in Africa’s largest economy has dropped since the last quarter of 2014 due to a plunge in crude oil prices on the international market.

The country is the top oil producer and exporter on the continent and the commodity accounts for more than 70 percent of its annual recurrent expenditure.

A combination of lower revenue from oil exports and rampant corruption has been blamed for one of the worst financial crisis the nation of over 170 million people is going through.

In January, the information minister said 55 people who were government ministers, state governors, public officials, bankers and businessmen stole 1.34 trillion naira ($6.8 billion) over a seven-year period.

President Buhari, who became the first opposition candidate to win a presidential election in Nigeria last year, has vowed to crackdown on corruption in government.

“It is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape,” Osibanjo said.