$9.3m arms deal: Why South Africa seized Nigerian chartered jet

by Akan Ido

There were indications yesterday that Nigeria has opened diplomatic talks with South Africa on how to resolve the stalemate on the controversial $9.3 million in seized funds.

Also, the Federal Government has released data and documents on the transaction process to South Africa.

The government allegedly told South Africa that the transaction was “legitimate.”

It was learnt that as a result of the preliminary diplomatic talks, the Challenger Jet might have been released to the government pending the conclusion of a comprehensive investigation by South Africa.

According to findings, the bi-focal diplomatic talks with South Africa were both at governmental level and exchanges by intelligence services of the two nations.

A reliable source said the diplomacy also covered sharing of vital security information to prove that the deal was necessary.

It was gathered that the South African Government only faulted “non-declaration” of the cash by the delegation from Nigeria.

The source said: “Nigeria and South Africa are getting closer to diplomatic resolution of the row over the $9.3m transaction. The two nations have opened up discussions.

“The Federal Government has submitted relevant data and documents on the transaction to South Africa and insisted that the transaction was legitimate.

“It also clarified that the funds were not laundered or smuggled for any covert manoeuvres. No launderer will be audacious to fly into a country in a chartered jet with such a huge cash.

“The technical details on security matters, which necessitated the desk, had been availed South Africa for screening.

“Based on initial scrutiny of the documents, the Challenger Jet has been released pending the conclusion of a full-scale investigation by South Africa.”

Asked why South Africa impounded the cash, the source added: “There was procedural error at the airport, the team did not declare the $9.3 million contrary to the aviation and customs laws in South Africa.

“So, there was an oversight on the part of the delegation that went to complete the transaction.

“Nigeria is trying to complete the formality and we are confident that the cash will be released for the purpose it was meant for.”

The source said: “Movement of cash for strategic purchase of security equipment by intelligence service is not new; it is a global trend. The FBI, KGB, MOSSAD and others do it”

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