Condemnation on Tuesday greeted the comments by former President Goodluck Jonathan that a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd,), did not steal $2.1bn contrary to the accusation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, currently prosecuting the ex-NSA.
Jonathan had stated that it was inconceivable to say that Dasuki stole $2.2bn, contending that his government, where Dasuki served as the NSA, bought warships, aircraft and a lot of equipment for the military during the period.
Dasuki, who has been in detention since mid-2015, is being prosecuted by the EFCC for alleged diversion of arms fund, totalling $2.1bn.
Jonathan argued that it would not be right to say that $2.2bn was stolen with the equipment and arms bought by his administration when he delivered a lecture on Youth Entrepreneurship at the Oxford Union in the United Kingdom on Tuesday.
Jonathan, in a statement by an Abuja-based public relations outfit, the PR Nigeria, said he had kept quiet to allow the court to handle the ongoing prosecution of the former NSA so as not to be seen as a former President challenging a sitting administration.
But the Presidency called on Jonathan to allow the court to decide the fate of his former NSA.
When asked to react to the comment, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the courts should be allowed to decide the matter which he said was subjudice.
“The matter is subjudice. Let the courts decide,” the presidential spokesman said.
The All Progressives Congress and the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff led faction of the PDP, a party the ex-President belongs to, also asked him to allow the court to do its job in the trial of Dasuki and other suspects, accused of benefiting from the arms cash diversion.
The former President admitted that while it was true that there were some corruption cases during his administration, some of the cases were exaggerated.
Jonathan said, “They said the National Security Adviser (Sambo Dasuki) stole $2.2bn. I don’t believe somebody can just steal $2.2 billion.
‘‘We bought warships, we bought aircraft, we bought lots of weapons for the Army and so on and so forth and you are still saying $2.2bn (was stolen). So, where did we get the money to buy all those things?
“One thing about the issue of corruption is that these matters are in court. Let’s allow some of these processes to end. Lately, some judges’ homes were also invaded. There are so many things involved and we have to follow up these matters to conclusion before we know the fact.
“Yes, there were some issues. Yes, there are still corruption issues but some of it were over blown; I would say exaggerated, and they give a very bad impression about our nation. You cannot say the national security adviser stole $2.2bn. It is not just possible.”
Let them prove it in court –APC
Also, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Timi Frank, urged Jonathan to assist Dasuki to make his case in court.
Frank said it was not enough for the ex-President to say his former NSA didn’t steal the $2.1bn, but it would be more appropriate to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
He said, “First, I wonder why it took former President Jonathan such a long time to speak out. Why now? If Colonel Dasuki is as clean as he wants us to believe, it would be nice if he can assist his former NSA to prove his case in court.
“The courts deal with evidence; let them prove their case.”
Allow Dasuki face his trial, PDP faction tells Jonathan
In a similar vein, a faction of the PDP under the leadership of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, asked Jonathan to allow Dasuki to face his trial.
The PDP said it was happy that neither Dasuki nor any other suspects claimed that they gave part of the money under investigation to it during the last general elections.
Spokespersons for the Sheriff-led faction of the party, Mr. Bernard Mikko, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday.
Mikko stated, “We don’t want to take issue with the former President on this matter, but we will want to say that the suspect and others like him, should be allowed to face their trial.
“Let the court determine if they are culpable or not. It is not our duty to defend or castigate anyone.
“It is also gratifying to know that none of these suspects has said he or she paid money to the PDP. So, we don’t have issues with that.”
Ex-President preparing ground for his defence –CACOL
The Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said the comments of Jonathan was a way of preparing for his own defence when he was eventually called to question.
Adeniran added, “I am not surprised that the former President made such a statement because he has always demonstrated his ignorance of how much malfeasance took place under his watch.
“He was the chief accounting officer of that regime and believed that all fingers are pointing in his direction, because most of those that have confessed to sharing in the loot have mentioned one way or the other that he (Jonathan) gave approval for the money they expended, the latest of which is Obanikoro and Fani-Kayode.
“He knew that eventually, it will get to him, that was why he was saying that it was not possible for Dasuki to steal $2.1bn, even when he saw people moving more than $9m to South Africa under a non-conventional guise for buying arms and he saw the revelations that even some of his ministers went away with more than $20bn.
“He was just saying that to prepare the ground for his own defence, maybe, when eventually he is called to answer questions. Basically, it’s just a kind of drowning man clutching to the available straw.”