By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA—More Nigerian politicians believed to have benefitted from the huge security budget said to be missing were, yesterday, arrested and detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
A former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa and the Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communications Plc, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, were among the latest to be questioned by the security agents for allegedly receiving huge sums of money from the office of the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.
Dasuki was taken from his Asokoro home in a pre-dawn raid by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, ahead of possible arraignment for breach of public trust and money laundering.
Sources at the EFCC said that while Dokpesi was invited to answer questions for allegedly receiving over N2 billion from the office of the NSA, Bafarawa was brought in for receiving over N100 million from the same source.
An EFCC source said: “A whopping sum of N2.1 billion was traced to the office of the embattled former NSA to Dokpesi without any clearly stated reason and we want to know what he received the huge sum of public funds for. We have also traced some money to the former Sokoto governor, Bafarawa, and we need to know what he got such money from the former security adviser for,” the source said.
Both men were taken in around midday, yesterday, to join the company of no fewer than 22 other suspects, who have been linked with receiving large sums of money from the Office of the National Security Adviser, who may stand trial with them in court.
Vanguard learnt last night that the DSS was making frantic efforts to transfer Dasuki to the EFCC for possible trial based on evidence that he and others yet to be identified mismanaged the nation’s security and defence funds.
EFCC’s Head of Media & Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that none of over 20 suspects who had earlier been detained by the commission had been released.
Wilson said the suspects had been making statements to EFCC operatives on the stolen security funds but did not give further details.
He did not also say when they were likely to be arraigned.
Meanwhile, after keeping him under house arrest for close to a month, operatives of the Department of State Service, yesterday, whisked away the embattled former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, to an undisclosed destination, though many suspected he was taken to DSS headquarters in Abuja.
PR Nigeria, which has been speaking for the former NSA confirmed in a statement made available to Vanguard that the former security czar was taken away early in the morning but did not give details of the operations.
However, when Vanguard visited Dasuki’s expansive home in the highbrow Asokoro District of Abuja around 11am, the DSS had scaled up its presence in the compound with more men and vehicles.
The entrance to the house located on 13 John Khadiya Street, was manned by stern-looking DSS operatives, who did not agree to speak with our correspondent.
Two black-coloured operational trucks of the DSS were also parked by the main entrance with their doors kept ajar.
The neighbourhood looked deserted as the security men took charge but did not molest any passer-by as a few of them milled around.
They were decked in their black-on-black attire and armed with sophisticated weapons.
Dasuki, whose arrest was ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, had, however, made spirited efforts to leave the country for medical treatment in the United Kingdom but was prevented from doing so by the DSS.
In spite of securing a federal judge’s order to travel, he was stopped at the airport by security agents who feared he could escape prosecution over alleged misuse of huge defence budgets running into billions of Naira, a charge he had denied.
Dasuki insists that he worked conscientiously for the country, saying that it was former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan who approved all his expenditures.
The panel raised by the presidency to probe the defence budget recently released its interim report, indicting Dasuki for not transparently utilizing the funds meant for security operations in the country.
The panel said most of the contracts awarded and paid for under Dasuki were not executed and that even the equipment said to have been acquired, needed to be sighted.
Last night, the EFCC hauled in some top officials of the previous administration said to have received heavy payments from the office of the beleaguered NSA.
A source close to Dasuki said that his pre-dawn arrest by the DSS was to bring him to face trial and to prevent him from escaping from Nigeria.
Count me out of arms deal – Saraki
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has dissociated himself from the N60bn arms deal involving the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that contrary to reports published in an online medium, he has never had anything to do with purchase of security equipment because in his entire political career he never served in any committee or body which has any link with Defence or national security.
According to the statement, “as a member of the Seventh Senate, Dr. Saraki was not a member of any of the committees which have oversight function on the Ministry of Defence or the intelligence and national security apparatus. If he was tagged the leader of the opposition to the Jonathan administration, how then will he be privy to arms purchases and have the influence to blackmail any government agency or institution over the release of funds.
“The Senate President would like to alert members of the public to this new plot by this particular online medium, to tarnish his reputation as the medium and its sponsors pursue the singular objective of removing him from the office of the Senate President, an objective they have since failed to achieve within and outside the National Assembly.
“This time around, the medium and its sponsors chose to drag the Senate President to this reigning and current issue of arms purchase by insinuating that he once blackmailed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to give him and other Senators the sum of N250 million as a way of covering up the arbitrary withdrawal by the NSA from the security fund approved by the former President.
“First, there is no logic in the claim as Dr. Saraki who was persecuted by the last administration could not have had the influence and good standing to walk up to the Central Bank to demand for any money having exposed many atrocities of the past administration. Again, on what ground would the Senate President blackmail anyone for 250 Million Naira? It must be emphasized here that Dr. Saraki will never engage in any sharp practice or issue which will warrant him to blackmail any individual or government institution.
“Therefore, for record purposes, Dr. Saraki did not collect any money from any official of the CBN in respect of any arms deal. The Senate President also challenged any official of the apex bank, Senator, serving or past, who witnessed or participated in any sharing of the alleged money purported to have been received by him, to come out with evidence.