By Sylvester Ugwuanyi
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed the denial by Asari Dokubo of the allegation that says he was aboard the plane carrying the $9.3m arms money that was impounded by the South African Government. The party said Asari’s denial was lacking in substance, arguing that he remains a suspect until the Federal Government comes clean on the identity of the Nigerians aboard the aircraft.
The party, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that its reaction was informed by a story published by www.africaneagle.com and www.nairaland.com which fingered Asari Dokubo as one of the Nigerians aboard the jet that carried the money to South Africa.
APC held that since that report has not been denied over 24 hours after it was published, Asari Dokubo’s denial of his involvement carries no weight until the government, which has claimed ownership of the funds, informs Nigerians about the identity of the two Nigerian citizens who were in the plane with an Israeli.
The statement reads in part, “We have no business with Asari Dokubo. He can blab all he likes. We have no reason to disbelieve a widely-circulated published report that named him as one of those on the plane. If he now says he was not on the plane, let the government come out and tell Nigerians who and who were on it, it said. APC wondered why the government has refused, for over three weeks now, to identify the Nigerians who flew on the plane that ferried the money to South Africa, especially after the Israeli who was also on the plane has been named.
“Identifying the Nigerians will help to unravel the circumstances surrounding the whole scandal. It will be interesting to know if the Nigerians are security officials, officials from the office of the NSA who issued the end-user certificate for the transaction or ordinary Nigerians. It will be interesting to know their relationship with the government that qualified them to fly such a huge amount of money to another country without declaring it. It will be interesting to know if they are arms contractors.
“We hope the Jonathan Administration will end its deafening silence on the issue immediately and come clean on the whole scandal,” said the party which had on Wednesday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to explain to Nigerians what Mujaheed Asari Dokubo, was doing on the plane that illegally ferried US$9.3 million to South Africa, where Dokubo, another Nigerian and an Israeli were arrested, according to a published report.
According to the opposition coalition, since the federal government has taken ownership of the funds by saying the National Security Adviser (NSA) issued the end-user certificate for the arms purchase, it stands to reason that the same government will know the involvement of all those aboard the plane. As such, the federal government has a lot of questions to answer on the whole deal, including whether Asari Dokubo is the contractor or the end user, who he was procuring arms for and for what purpose.
The statement reads further, “Under our Constitution, the NSA is an adviser and has no executive powers to deploy troops from any of the services or purchase arms for them. That the arms purported to be purchased from South Africa were ordered from the office of the NSA is nothing but a mere fabrication, and raises serious questions about the motive for the purchase.
“Nigerians will therefore like to know on whose behalf Asari Dokubo was purchasing arms. This is very crucial because Asari Dokubo has been threatening that Nigeria will not know peace if his benefactor, President Jonathan, is not re-elected. Therefore, Nigerians will like to know whether he has started stockpiling arms to make his threat a reality, since elections are due in a few months’ time.
“If these arms are meant to fight insurgency, as the government has claimed, what is Asari Dokubo’s business purchasing arms for the Nigerian military, if indeed they were for the military? Does it not occur to the Nigerian government that this man who once took arms against the state may not have jettisoned his sinister plan against the same state? Which country will ever allow a man who once carried arms against the state to now be purchasing arms for the same state? Even if it is true that he is purchasing the arms for the state, what prevents him from also using the opportunity to purchase arms for his own sinister motive? Could this be why Asari Dokubo has been talking publicly and confidently, without official censure, that President Jonathan must be re-elected or Nigeria will not know peace again?” the party queried.
Continuing, it recalled that “in our Press Release on Tuesday, we again asked President Jonathan to come clean on the US$9.3 million and US$5.7 million deals. We also asked him to tell Nigerians the identity of the two Nigerians who were on the plane that illegally ferried money to South Africa. Now that the Nigerians are known, and they are the President’s men, the story has taken a new dimension.”
APC stated that since those who claim to be fighting for Nigeria’s unity may actually be the ones working against it and that those laying claim to patriotism are actually anything but patriotic, saying that it then becomes more urgent than ever for the National Assembly to take these cash-for-arms deals seriously, instead of dismissing the concerns of Nigerians on the basis of some rules as the House of Representatives has glibly done.
By Sylvester Ugwuanyi