Michelle Faul and Bashir Adigun, AP, November 18, 2015
Nigeria’s leader has ordered the arrest of the former president’s national security adviser for allegedly stealing billions of dollars meant to buy weapons to fight Boko Haram Islamic extremists rampaging across northeast Nigeria.
“Thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided” if the money had been properly spent, Femi Adesina, an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, said in a statement Tuesday night.
The order follows an interim report by a presidential committee that uncovered fraudulent and fictitious arms contracts amounting to $5.4 billion, Adesina said. The committee is investigating arms procurement since 2007 as part of the fight against endemic corruption that Buhari has waged since taking office in May.
Buhari has also ordered the arrest of other former high-ranking officials linked to the scandal, said Adesina.
Sambo Dasuki, a key adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan from 2011, is accused of awarding “phantom contracts” to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets and munitions worth $2.9 billion that never were supplied. Buhari fired him in July.
Dasuki denied any wrongdoing in an interview Tuesday night with the PR Nigeria news agency, and said he was proud that in the final months under his watch Nigeria’s military ousted Boko Haram from its self-declared Islamic caliphate in the country’s northeast.
A retired army lieutenant-colonel, Dasuki participated in every coup in Nigeria since the 1980s.