The Presidency and the embattled former National Security Adviser (NSA) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), have begun negotiations over a possible out-of-court settlement in the $2 billion arms procurement scandal.
The New Telegraph reports that the negotiation is at the instance of high level personalities, including retired Generals, with the assurance to get the beneficiaries return the security fund to government’s coffers.
The paper claims that a source in the know said the peace initiative was as a result of damning evidence that indicted prominent Nigerians and officials of the Muhammad Buhari administration who were beneficiaries of the security fund. “Discussions are going on between the parties. The revelation that has come out so far are just a tip of the iceberg.
If Dasuki is allowed to release documents about the beneficiaries of arms deal and security fund, the country will be in crisis,” the source is quoted to have said. Dasuki has threatened to open up on the arms deal. “This is why he demanded for an open trial,” the source added.
“With open trial, the whole world would know that so many people were involved in the arms deal.” Another source close to Dasuki is said to have told New Telegraph that the former NSA has compiled the list of beneficiaries of the fund with documentary evidence including bank transactions, receipts, video and audio recordings of the transaction before the talks.
“The gravity of the evidence and those involved in the arms deal necessitated the peace moves. The discussion is to douse the tension because if Dasuki opens up, the Buhari presidency would be embarrassed by the revelations,” he said. It was learnt that those coordinating the negotiation met with President Buhari to see how the matter could be resolved without escalating the tension already generated with the arms procurement scandal. One of the terms of agreement, according to the source, is that Dasuki should be granted bail.
The ex-NSA was granted bail last week, though he is still in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).“The negotiation is what we expected former President Goodluck Jonathan to have done. We learnt that he is also reaching out to the president,” the source said.
A source in the Presidency said that Buhari had told Jonathan about his findings regarding the expenditure of the security fund before Dasuki’s arrest. Jonathan was said to have given Buhari a go ahead about the probe. The former president reportedly told his former aides to get their record right ahead of the probe.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, could not confirm the ongoing negotiation. “I don’t have the information now,” he told New Telegraph last night. New Telegraph has also learnt that some prominent Nigerians and retired military officers have made returns to government.
The returns, according to sources, are the amount they received from the office of the NSA. Some of the retired military officers have quietly returned proceeds from the arms deal. “I can confirm to you that some people have quietly returned money to the government or the institutions they once served,” he said.
Former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, erstwhile Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and others are facing trial along with Dasuki over the $2 billion arms procurement scandal. Yuguda has revealed that he gave N100 million to some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including Chief Bode George, Yerima Abdullahi, former Governors Peter Odili and Jim Nwobodo, for the 2015 elections. A source close to one of the beneficiaries of the arms fund said he had documentary evidence of how he shared the money given to him.
“This thing cuts across parties. I can tell you that what was given to my principal was meant for some influential Nigerians. From what our oga got, a former governor who contested in the March/April general elections on the platform of another party was a beneficiary of the fund. “Also, a former presidential candidate, who is not a member of the PDP, was also given part of the money for mobilisation.
Even, some prominent leaders across the North-South divide benefitted from the fund,” the source told New Telegraph. He said while money was transferred to the accounts of the beneficiaries, others who collected cash signed for what they got. Meanwhile, Dasuki will today know whether he will go back home or continually be remanded in the custody of the EFCC. Justice Peter Affen of an Abuja High Court will deliver ruling in the bail application brought by Dasuki and five others who were last week arraigned on a 22-count charge bothering on fraudulent diversion of public fund amounting to N19.4 billion. Arraigned alongside Dasuki in the new charge are Bafarawa and Yuguda.
The accused persons were arraigned on a 22-count charge bothering on criminal breach of trust and diversion of public fund under the pretext of purchasing security arms. Other accused persons are Sagir, Bafarawa’s son and their family company, Dalhatu Investment Ltd.
Justice Baba Hussein of the same Abuja High Court had, on Friday, admitted Dasuki to bail in another 19-count charge suit filed against him and erstwhile Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu, former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC), Aminu Baba-Kusa, as well as his companies, Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited. The trial judge had granted them bail in the sum of N250 million each and on the condition that they provide one reasonable and responsible surety in like sum.
Such surety must show evidence of owning a property in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) worth the same amount. The court further directed that the surety must be a civil servant not below the rank of a director in the Federal Civil Service. Though, the accused persons are still in the EFCC custody, New Telegraph learnt that Dasuki’s legal team is waiting for the ruling this morning before going ahead to perfect the bail condition. According to a member of Dasuki’s legal team who prefers anonymity, “we are hoping that the court will take judicial notice of the Friday judgement and, as such, may likely adopt same, that will give a direction as to how to go about it.
It will not make sense to be looking for different people as surety. “We are rest assured that Dasuki will not sleep in EFCC custody today.” Dasuki had, in his statement of defence, said he handed over the N10 billion given to PDP nomination convention delegates to Jonathan’s Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, and the Aide-de-Camp. Dasuki said:
“I wish to state as follows: That I have been publicly indicted and any statement may jeopardise my defence. Having been briefed by the EFCC investigators on why I was invited, I will answer the charges in court. As such, I do not wish to make any further statement on the matter.
“That I am aware in November (I cannot remember the exact date), my office requested the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to exchange N10 billion from the account of the Office of National Security Adviser domiciled in CBN. The money was exchanged at $47 million and some Euros, which I cannot remember.
The exact amount was delivered at my residence. “The money was for delegates that attended the nomination convention for the PDP presidential nomination. The money was paid and sent to Hon. (Waripamowei) Dudafa (SSAP Household) and ADC (C-IC) for distribution on the instruction of the president.
“Based on the statement of Director of Finance and Administration (Salisu), Ibrahim Wambai and Yazidu Ibrahim, all the cash (both foreign and local) are usually given to them for official use. “I also noted the statement of Sagir Bafarawa whose company is Dalhatu Investment, which he stated that he received N4,633,000,000 from the account of the Office of the NSA. I authorised the payment. The money was for vehicles, motorcycles for youth empowerment and women sent to Saudi Arabia. I got the proposal from the president. I do not have the proposal; it should be at the office in the Villa.
“I have seen the statement of the Zenith Bank account where N5 billion was paid. I authorised the following payments, among others: Jabbama Ada Global Nigeria Limited (N400m); R.R. Hospital (N750m); ACACIA Holdings LTD (N1.25bn); Barr. I.M. Bala (N150m); African Cable TV (N 350m); Nigerian Defence Academy (N159m); B.B. (N350m); Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (N125,503, 255.11); Coscharis Motors (N119m).
“The payments were meant for various partners as earlier listed. I know Basha Nigeria Limited to be owned by Hon. Bello Matawalle. I authorised the payment of N380 million for further disbursement to members of the House of Representatives as campaign contribution. I authorised the payment of N751 million to HEIRS BDC Limited for conversion to forex from the account of the NSA. Money was used for operation in the Office of the NSA. “I have seen the mandate from the CBN signed by me authorising payment of various sums of money to Dalhatu Investment for the reasons earlier stated.
“In respect of funds given to Ambassador Bashir Yuguda between December 2014 and 2015, I authorised the payment of N1.5 billion from the Office of the National Security Adviser for political campaign in the last elections. I remember paying DAAR Communications the sum of N2.120 billion from ONSA for media activities for the Presidential Campaign 2015.” Dasuki also confirmed payment of $146,639019.00 to E-Force Inter-Service Ltd. The ex-NSA added: “I do not have any company registered in my name, I have no account with HSBC. All payments made from NSA accounts within the period I was there were authorised by me.”