NSA Says Transaction is Legitimate
The Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in South Africa has seized $5.7 million for yet another arms deal between South Africa and Nigeria, reported City Press, a Johannesburg-based newspaper.
This is the second multimillion-dollar arms deal between the two countries in the past month that has resulted in the money being frozen in South African banks.
However, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), in a statement yesterday by its media adviser, PRNigeria, while trying to justify the large movement of cash across borders for the purchase of arms, said the transactions were legitimate.
“I don’t know why South Africa is doing this to us. What do they want to achieve and stand to gain? Surely, if one reads the story very well, it is not hard to see that the whole transaction was legitimate and was done with banks and companies involved,” PRNigeria quoted an ONSA source as stating.
Also speaking on the latest cash seizure, PRNigeria said though it looks like an old story being refreshed for impact, the South African media had published documents confirming the legitimacy of the botched arms deals between Nigeria and South Africa.
“The reports by Rapport and City Press appear to finally vindicate the federal government’s official position that the transactions were legitimate as they confirmed that the end user certificates and a ‘shopping list’ accompanied the transactions as well as a note from Nigerian government authenticating the deals,” the media adviser said.
“For security reasons, the chains leading to the issuance of end-user certificate cannot be put in the public domain. The recent interest in arms purchase was informed by the challenges of the insurgency, which our nation has been grappling with in the last few years. This is why the understanding of all Nigerians is necessary.”
“Nigeria is desperate to counter the activities of the terrorists no matter what it takes even when some of our friends are not being fair to us. The government appeals to the media and all Nigerians, especially the opposition, to consider the overall national interest on security issues. They should not read negative meanings to every good intention of government in tackling the insecurity in the country.”
Speaking further, the intelligence source was of the view that the mounting interest in Nigeria’s arms deals in the past few weeks appear to suggest that some vested interests do not want the nation to win the war against the terrorists.
He said: “Some fifth columnists are certainly at work to achieve a clandestine purpose. The government and some top intelligence officers in Nigeria are concerned about how some officials of South Africa decided to frustrate the efforts of Nigeria at containing the activities of terrorists operating in the North-eastern axis, especially since authoritative sources confirmed that there was official communication at the top level between the two governments.
“Some diplomats in Nigeria are also concerned that despite the leeway given to South African companies to thrive in Nigeria, there are still officials of the country who are determined to frustrate Nigeria, which in April this year overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest economy.
Similarly, the Special Assistant to the NSA, Mr. Adekunle Karounwi said that there was nothing illegal about the controversial $5.7m cash-for-arms deal seized by the South African authorities.
Karounwi said the two companies involved are duly registered both in Nigeria and South Africa and the transactions done through a bank.
According to him, the problem only arose when the South African company could not fulfill its own part of the bargain with respect to the process of returning the money to Nigeria through the bank before the authorities impounded it.
“There is nothing illegitimate in that transaction. A company duly registered in Nigeria and another legitimate company in South Africa did a legitimate business with a recognised bank.
“The only problem was that the one in South Africa could not deliver on the job and tried to return the cash through a bank. Now how is that an illegal transaction?”, he asked.
He added: “We have hosted South African companies like MTN, DSTV and others doing businesses in Nigeria through the same medium unmolested. So how come they are trying to ridicule the country like this?