Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said it was impossible for the National Security Adviser (NSA) during his administration, Sambo Dasuki, to have stolen $2.2 billion as claimed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr. Dasuki, who has been in detention since December 1, 2015, was arrested by the State Security Service for allegedly misappropriating $2.2 billion meant to purchase equipment for the Nigerian military in its battle against the terrorist Boko Haram group.
A Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, last Friday granted an application by the EFCC to consolidate two separate cases against the former army Colonel.
A statement by the anti-graft commission said Mr. Dasuki would be re-arraigned on November 16.
Mr. Jonathan, who spoke at the famous Oxford Union, Oxford United Kingdom, on youth entrepreneurship, argued that it was “not just possible” for Mr. Dasuki to have stolen $2.2 billion after his administration procured several equipment for the country’s military.
“They said the National Security Adviser stole $2.2billion. I don’t believe somebody can just steal $2.2 billion. We bought warships, we bought aircraft, we bought lots of weapons for the army and so on and so forth and you are still saying 2.2 billion, so where did we get the money to buy all those things?” he asked while responding to a question about the alleged missing arms procurement fund now referred to as Dasukigate by the Nigerian media.
While admitting that corruption was an issue during his administration, the former president said some of the allegations were “exaggerated”.
“Yes, there were some issues; yes, there are still corruption issues; but some of it were blown, I’d say exaggerated, and they give a very bad impression about our nation. You cannot say the national security adviser stole $2.2billion. It is not just possible,” he said.
“One thing about the issue of corruption is that these matters are in court, let’s allow some of these processes to end. Lately some judges’ (homes) were also invaded. There are so many things involved and we have to follow up these matters to conclusion before we know the fact.
“I don’t want to be seen as a former president challenging what the sitting government is doing so I have decided to keep quiet for the court to look into them,” he said.
He said allegations of corruption were not unique to his administration.
He explained that governments had been overthrown in the past because they were accused of being corrupt, only for the new administration itself to be pushed out by another junta touting the anti-corruption mantra.
“You will see that it has become a major topic whenever there is a change of government,” he said.
He further argued that corruption was a global problem, but said the perception of corruption was greater in Nigeria due to the Nigerian media’s obsession with reporting on corruption.
“I am not saying there is no corruption in Nigeria, there is corruption. If you look at corruption there is almost no country that is free, the degree varies, the perception varies,” he said.
“Transparency International talks about the way corruption is being perceived in different economies, why do we talk about the way corruption is being perceived, it depends on the issue raised in the media every day.”