by Chidi Okoye
Following South Africa’s seizure of a Nigerian private jet carrying $9.3 million into Johannesburg, and the subsequent revelation by the Nigerian government that it sanctioned the transaction the cash was meant for, it appears that the money might be with the South Africans for longer than envisaged.
Despite the fact the the Federal government of Nigeria said the money was meant for arms purchase for the Nigeria intelligence agencies, South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) says it has frozen the cash.
The NPA released a statement, saying the process in which the money was brought into the country breached the laws that deal with the transfer of foreign exchange of such proportion.
“The money was initially detained by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as it was not disclosed or declared at customs, and was above the prescribed legal limit for the amount of cash that may be brought into the country.”
The NPA also said that its investigation showed that Tier One Services Group, the firm the Nigerian government claimed it wanted to procure the arms from, is not authorised to sell or rent military hardware.
The statement read, “In court papers, the NPA submitted evidence that Tier One is not registered with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee and is thus not authorised to enter into any agreements regarding the sale and/or rental of military equipment.”
South Africa’s NPA’s spokesman, Nathi Mncube said, “The matter is under criminal investigations by the Directorate of Priority Crimes of Investigations unit at South African Police Services.”
“An order in the North Gauteng High Court freezing a cash amount of US$9.34 million (about R102 million). “The cash consisted of 90 blocks of $100,000 each and was found in two black plastic suitcases.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, 18 September, the Senate summoned National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh and Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah over the smuggled $9.3 million (
N1.52 billion) cash.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator George Sekibo, said those invited to appear before his committee on Tuesday would brief members on the incident. He said: “I don’t want to pre-empt issues because I have not heard details about the issue but they will be here on Tuesday.”