Less than 48 hours after the Nigerian Federal Government said it has provided South African authorities with documents to prove that the $9.3 million cash seized from two Nigerians and an Israeli in the country was legitimate, investigators in South Africa have dismissed the claim.
According to a statement South African prosecution agency, National Prosecuting Authority, sent to Sahara Reporters on Thursday, 18 September, 2014, the Nigerian government’s explanations of the purpose of the $9.3 million are “flawed and riddled with discrepancies”.
The arrested suspects had told South African authorities that the seized $9.3 million was meant for the procurement of arms for Nigerian intelligence agencies.
Investigation had revealed that jet used to ferry the money into South Africa was owned by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor.
However, few hours after it was reported, Oritsejafor had come out to state that he is not aware of the arms deal, saying the aircraft was being managed by another company, Eagle Air Company, which in turn, said it leased the jet to a third party, Green Coast Produce Limited.
On Tuesday, the Nigerian security officials released a statement where it was stated that it was normal practice to procure arms with cash.
“The Federal Government has submitted relevant data and documents on the transaction to South Africa and insisted that the transaction was legitimate.
“It also clarified that the funds were not laundered or smuggled for any covert manoeuvres.
“No launderer will be audacious to fly into a country in a chartered jet with such a huge cash,” a statement by PRNigeria, an agency that regularly disseminates media statements for the military, police and other security agencies in Nigeria, explained.
However, investigators in South Africa seem not to buy the explanations given by the Nigerian government as the Asset Forfeiture Unit, AFU, of the NPA has said that it has as obtained a court order to freeze the money.
The NPA claimed the manner which the $9.3 million was brought into South Africa breached the country’s laws that deal with the transfer of foreign exchange of such proportion.
“The money was initially detained by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as it was not disclosed or declared at customs, and was above the prescribed legal limit for the amount of cash that may be brought into the country,” a statement made available to newsmen read.
The South African agency informed that Tier One Services Group, the firm Nigerian government claimed it wanted to procure arms from, is not authorised to sell or rent military hardware.
“In court papers, the NPA submitted evidence that Tier One is not registered with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee and is thus not authorised to enter into any agreements regarding the sale and/or rental of military equipment,” the statement read.
The NPA added that the transaction did not follow normal procedure in the procurement of the kind of equipment it was alleged to have been meant for.