Human rights activist and Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has faulted the reported threat by the Federal Government to sanction blue chip South African companies operating in Nigeria over South African government’s repeated seizure of Nigeria’s money amounting to about $15m allegedly meant to purchase military hardware.
The South African authorities had on two separate occasions, confiscated large sums of money brought into the country from Nigeria.
In the first instance, the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa, seized the sum of $9.3m cash brought to the country by two Nigerians and an Israeli in a private jet owned by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. The South African NPA also seized another sum of $5.7m, said to be the money brought to the country by Nigerian government agents negotiating arms purchase deal. The deal was said to have been thwarted by the South African National Conventional Arms Control.
Following the outrage in Nigeria over the seized cash-for-arms deal, the federal government, through the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) was reported to have mulled retaliating against South Africa by imposing sanctions on companies from that country operating in Nigeria.
However, Falana said such a threat had called to question the moral integrity of the Federal Government.
He said, “By threatening to deal with the South African government over the breach of the law by the private businessmen and corporate bodies involved in the suspicious transactions, the office of the NSA has called to question the moral integrity of the Federal Government.
“By asking South Africa to reciprocate the gesture of allowing MTN and DSTV to operate in Nigeria, is the Federal Government saying that both South African companies are allowed to breach the law of the land?
“Regrettably, the National Assembly treated this matter of urgent national importance so cavalierly and in the process left many questions unanswered.
“Otherwise how could both chambers have failed to examine the statement of the NPA that the official explanations for the suspicious transactions are riddled with contradictions? Instead of grandstanding over the criminal enterprise the Federal Government should apologise to Nigerians and call the NSA to order for dragging the name of Nigeria through the mud”, Falana said.