by Kolapo Olapoju
After an aircraft conveying $9.3m cash from Abuja, allegedly for arms purchase, was seized by the South African authorities, the Nigerian government has said it was aware of the aeroplane and its mission.
Two Nigerians and an Israeli aboard the plane were detained for transporting the money into South Africa.
Ysterday, it was reported that the jet is owned by the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor,
Mr. Oritsejafor, however, denied knowledge of the arms deal saying the aircraft was managed by another company, Eagle Air Company, which leased the jet to a third party, Green Coast Produce Limited.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has released data and documents on the transaction, through PRNigeria, an agency that disseminates media statements for the military, police and other security agencies in Nigeria.
The statement revealed that Nigeria and South Africa are in talks to resolve the issue.
“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. PRNigeria quoted the official as saying.”
“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.”
The statement, however, alleged procedural error’ on the part of the Nigerian delegation at the South African airport, which led to the money being seized.
“There was procedural error at the airport, the team did not declare the $9.3million 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. 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.”