Ex-Nigeria official facing arrest for R28bn arms scam

NIGERIA’S President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the arrest of the country’s former national security adviser, accusing him of stealing about $2-billion (R28.4-billion) received for phantom arms contracts, the presidency said yesterday.

And in another development, more than 30 people were killed on Tuesday when a bomb blast ripped through packed crowds in Yola, northeast Nigeria, just days after Buhari visited and declared that Boko Haram were close to defeat.

The arrest order is part of a campaign by Buhari, who was elected in March, to tackle corruption that has enriched an elite, but left most normal people in poverty.

Buhari’s office said former security adviser Sambo Dasuki had awarded fictitious and phantom contracts for jets, helicopters and ammunition for the army to fight the jihadist Boko Haram group which had never been delivered.

Under Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, when Dasuki was in office, Boko Haram took control of parts of Nigeria’s northeast, where it is trying to carve out an Islamic state.

“Had the funds siphoned . . . been properly used for the purpose they were meant for, thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided,”

the presidency said late on Tuesday.

There was no immediate comment from Dasuki.

In Tuesday’s incident, the explosion happened at about 8.20pm in the Jambutu area of the Adamawa state capital, although it was not immediately clear whether it had been caused by a suicide bomber or an improvised explosive device.

“So far, we’ve recorded about 32 dead and about 80 injured,” National Emergency Management Agency Yola coordinator Sa’ad Bello said.

The Red Cross and state police gave a slightly lower toll of 31 dead and 72 wounded.

The blast bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has

attacked Yola with suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices in recent months.

Buhari was in Yola this month to decorate soldiers for bravery in the counter-insurgency as well as visit a camp for people displaced by six years of violence that has left at least 17 000 dead.

He told troops he believed Boko Haram “are very close to defeat” and urged soldiers “to remain vigilant, alert and focused to prevent Boko Haram from sneaking into our communities to attack soft targets”.

Red Cross official Aliyu Maikano and residents said the area targeted was a truck park which also houses a livestock market, an open-air restaurant and a mosque.

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