The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, and a number of top officials from the office of the National Security Adviser over the controversial arms procurement scandal surrounding former NSA, Sambo Dasuki.
Yuguda was picked up on Monday evening in Abuja at about 4:00pm local time.
According to a source in the EFCC, he wasstill being questioned, as at 9pm last night, by a team of EFCC operatives for allegedly receiving suspicious payments from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, who is being investigated over a two billion dollars arms deal.
The sources said a huge amount of money; “running into billions” was allegedly traced to the former minister from funds meant for arms procurement.
“The funds were directly transferred to him from the NSA office and he has been unable to explain the rationale for the transfer,” a source said.
“The transfers were made to his account between December 2014 and May 2015.”
Also arrested over the same matter, according to sources, are some senior officials at the NSA office, including the director of finance.
“The suspects are being grilled by crack detectives and may not be allowed to go home soon,” one source said.
Some of the monies allegedly traced to Ambassador Bashir include 1.2 billion Naira paid to him by the office of the NSA through a company and for unclear reasons.
The former minister also allegedly received 775 million Naira from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for unclear reasons.
He is also alleged to have received another 1.275 billion Naira from a conglomerate, Stallion Group, during the last presidential election campaign.
All these funds were allegedly transferred to him between December 2014 and May 2015.
Online publication, Premium Times, reports that also in custody over the same matter are the sons of Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto State and Haliru Bello Mohamed, former minister of defence and ex-national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Sagir Bafarawa, allegedly acting as front for his father, received N4.6billion from the NSA’s office.
Attahiru Bafarawa had recently escaped arrest but the EFCC says the former governor remains on its radar.
The ex-PDP chairman’s son, Abbah Mohammed, on his part got N600milion in the name of Bam Properties Limited.
Also in the custody of the anti-graft agency is Shuaibu Salisu, a former director of finance and administration in the former NSA’s office.
Mr. Salisu, a staff of the National Intelligence Agency, was a joint signatory with Mr. Dasuki to the NSA’s office account and EFCC operatives are accusing him of “supervising some dubious payments”.
A presidential investigations committee into arms procurement under the Goodluck Jonathan administration had said in its interim report that it found extra-budgetary spending by the Jonathan administration to the tune of N643.8 billion and an additional $2.2 billion in the foreign currency component.
But Mr. Dasuki has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying all contracts and accruing payments on arms procurement were made based on the approval of Mr. Jonathan, adding that due process and military procurement regulations were followed in all the transactions.
“Nigerians should note that all the services generated the types of equipment needed, sourced suppliers most times and after consideration by the Office of the NSA, the President will approve application for payment,” Mr. Dasuki in a recent statement.
Mr. Jonathan however said in Washington last week that his government never awarded any contract in the range of $2 billion dollars.
“I did not award any $2 billion contract for procurement of weapons,” Mr. Jonathan said, querying, “Where did the money come from?” and repeating emphatically that “I did not award a contract of $2billion for procurement of weapons”.