Human rights activist and Lagos-based lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has picked holes in the position of the Federal Government regarding the $9.3 million cash that was seized by the South African Police, describing it as not only ludicrous, but also laughable.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Keyamo said, “From my little understanding, the Federal Government’s position can be summarised as follows:
1. That it is aware of the movement of such large sum of money by cash out of the country.
2. That the cash is meant for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency.
3. That the transaction was done by cash to ensure the speed of the transaction.
4. That it resorted to buy from South Africa because of procedural bottlenecks in the purchase of such items from western countries.
The above position of the Federal Government is not only ludicrous, it is laughable, untenable and a story only fit to be told to the marines. The following rhetoric posers are germane to this issue:
1. Is it really faster and safer to do an international transaction of such magnitude by ferrying cash across the continent or by a simple wire transfer that can go through in a matter of few minutes or few hours?
2. If, indeed, the matter involves security issues like the purchase of arms by a foreign government like Nigeria, why was the South African Government not brought into the picture beforehand? How could the South African Government be sure that the arms were purchased legitimately by the Nigerian government and not by insurgents if they were not officially informed beforehand?
3. If indeed the manufacturer(s) of such equipment was/were expecting such large amount by cash, why did they not make adequate arrangements with the authorities in South Africa to declare and clear the cash on arrival?
4. Why was money belonging to the Federal Government and meant for purchase of equipment for the Federal Government moved by a private jet and by private individuals and why were they not accompanied by the officials of the Department of State Services or the office of the National Security Adviser in official capacities?
5. Why would a government that is at the peak of promoting the cashless policy in our economy be the chief breaker of that policy by moving such a large amount by cash?
6. If, indeed, it was a legitimate transaction of the Federal Government, why were the officials of our embassy in South Africa not on hand to make the entry easier and smoother?
7. Since the South African Government has said the amount is above the limit of cash allowed into that country, why would a whole government like Nigeria not know the simple immigration laws of a sister and friendly country before allowing that type of amount of cash to be taken to that country?
8. Why would the Nigerian government seek to smuggle cash into a country without disclosure if it was, indeed, for a legitimate transaction?
9. From where did the Federal Government source that amount in Nigeria? Was it from the Central Bank of Nigeria or from the black market? Nigerians demand answers to this with proof.
10. Is it just a wicked coincidence that it is the aircraft belonging to a personal friend and unapologetic ally of the President in the person of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (my big brother in Warri), that was used to smuggle the cash?
11. If, contrary to the above posers, the transaction was contracted out to a private company in Nigeria, does it not amount to the offence of Money Laundering under our laws for the Federal Government to have allowed that company to attempt to pay for the equipment by cash to the tune of that amount without passing through a financial institution?
From Festus Keyamu