Arms Deal: $9.3m Found In Oritsejafor’s Plane Was Not Stolen Money – Sagay
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, says so far, there is no case against the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
It will be recalled that in 2014, $9.3m cash was smuggled into South Africa by two Nigerians and an Israeli using Oritsejafor’s private jet.
The money was reportedly meant for the purchase of arms but the South African government seized the cash as it was not declared at the point of entry and was in breach of South Africa’s money laundering laws.
According to a report by The Punch, Sagay, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the process was not transparent. He, however, said Oritsejafor’s explanation that his jet had been chartered was acceptable.
But Sagay added that he could not predict the outcome of investigations of the arms scam which had led to the prosecution of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, whose office sanctioned the $9.3m cash-for-arms deal.
Sagay said, “The plane was on charter, so he can very well claim that he had no idea what was being taken on board and he probably was not the one that came to that agreement. I am not saying that he knew nothing about it but he had a company and ideally, his employees would be the ones to make all the arrangements but, of course, in reality, given that he was close to the government in power, he must have known.
“But what they were doing in that transaction was irregular; it wasn’t stealing. They were going to use the money to buy arms. They were not supposed to do it in that manner. They were supposed to do it through normal bank transfers. So, what happened was irregular but I don’t think the money was stolen.”
Reacting to claims that the Goodluck Jonathan administration did arms transactions in cash because western countries had refused to sell weapons to Nigeria, Sagay said, “That was just an excuse as far as I am concerned.
“I think what happened was that when they had divided all the money meant for arms through Dasuki and found out that Boko Haram was devastating the Nigerian Army, they just looked for money from somewhere to go and buy some arms,” Sagay said.
Oritsejafor had come under fire from some prominent Nigerians including Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai; and Pastor of the Household of God Church International Ministries, Rev. Chris Okotie, over the case.
However, the CAN President had denied the allegation saying, “I leased the aircraft on August 2, 2014 to a company to run it. It was the company that entered into an agreement with the people who carried out the transfer of funds. Having leased the aircraft to the Green Coast Produce Company Limited, any transaction undertaken with the aircraft can no longer be attached to me.”
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