$2.1b arms scandal: N1.5b paid into accounts of ex-minister's son
A bureau de change operator has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that N1.5billion was paid into his account for the son of a former Minister of Finance.
Salisu Umaru said he did not know what the minister's son used the cash for. The former minister and his son were not named “so as not to jeopardise the investigation”. The cash is believed to be part of the $2.1 billion “phoney” arms deals funds.
Also at the weekend, it was learnt that the army has replaced one of its officers under probe for the phoney arms deals, Col. Nicholas Ashinze, with Col. M.A. Abdullahi as the nation's military attaché to Germany.
Col. Ashinze is to refund N7.3million, which was paid to him as estacode and air fares.
Salisu, who gave the EFCC details of how the N1.5billion was wired into his company's account, said he never knew what the cash from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) was meant for.
He said : “I was invited by EFCC and when I reported, I was shown my company's account statement with Zenith Bank called Jabama Ada Global Nigeria Limited in which there was an inflow of N500million on 5/2/2015 and N1billion on 16/4/2015 into the account from the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“On the inflow of N500million into my company's account on 5/2/2015, I wish to state as follows : That on the same date(5/2/2015), I paid the equivalent of US$2,380,952 to the son of the minister, being the equivalent of the said N500million at the rate of N210 per dollar.
“I do not know what he used the money for. My own business is to buy and sell dollars. It is only the minister's son that can explain what the money was meant for. The minister's son signed and collected the said N500million.
“On the N1billion inflow into my company's account on 16/4/2015, I wish to say the money was disbursed as follows: $1,000,000, being the equivalent of N220million; and $327,000 (equivalent of N72,600,000) were paid cash to the son of the minister while the sum of N704,400,000 was transferred to various accounts based on the instruction of the minister's son. He gave some of the instructions through text messages. Some of the instructions were also received from the father.
“I also want to state that I do not know what the N1billion was meant for and what it was used for.”
Col. M.A. Abdullahi's initial nomination for the job was turned down by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah.
Gen. Minimah was said to have favoured Col. Ashinze because he speaks German fluently.
Col. Ashinze had been ordered by the army to refund N7.3million, including an estacode of N6million and N1.3milion air fares.
But the embattled former military aide to Col. Dasuki asked the army to prevail on the EFCC to lift the restriction on his account to be able to refund the cash.
A top source said: “Ashinze has been replaced with Col. M.A. Abdullahi as Defence Attaché to Germany because the EFCC is yet to conclude investigation of some military officers.
“In fact, Ashinze was replaced as soon a he was shortlisted for interrogation and before the EFCC began his drilling.
“While in EFCC's custody, the military police brought the letter asking him to refund the N7.3million allowances. He said the army should lift the ban placed on his account to effect refund of the money.”