Buhari’s friend, Jafaru Isa, clears self from Dasuki arms deal
Former member of the President Muhammadu Buhari 2015 transition committee, Brigadier General Lawal Jafaru Isa, has at the weekend opened up on his controversial invitation to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his alleged involvement in the arms procurement scandal. He said EFCC found nothing against him.
The former military administrator of Kaduna State said though the EFCC had invited him for questioning, he was not found guilty of the allegations because the transactions he had with the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, had nothing to do with the arms deal.
Nigerian government had in 2015 launched one of the most controversial probe of a missing $2 billion that was released by the former administration for the purchase of arms to help soldiers fight Boko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria.
The probe had roped in many former and serving public officers who are either on trial of have refunded what they got as their share.
Jafaru Isa, a close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari was in January, 2016 arrested by the EFCC. He was later released after the anti-graft agency said they found nothing against him.
He broke his silence over the weekend when he spoke with a group of journalists in his Abuja home.
Isa said his visit to the EFCC had nothing to do with the arms deal.
“This issue is now behind me. What happened was that in January 2016, I was invited by the EFCC over a financial transaction between me and the Office of the former NSA”, he said.
“They wanted to know what took place. And I explained to them. When the insurgency was on, Kano was one of the targets and I think the first attack on Kano was on 20th January, 2012. And after that, the tempo of the attacks on Kano kept on increasing. Of course, it was an area of concern for anyone who was there, and for government especially.
“What was really happening was that, at every attack, they kill the indigenes and the go away like that, no arrests were made. And this raised a lot of concern.
So, the then NSA now felt that there was a need for him to have what is called a Safe House. A safe house is a security quarters where you have informants that give you information and you also have security operatives working there as well.
“You have to understand the modus of operation of the enemies. We found one, and the pictures were sent by the Office of the NSA, for purchase. The picture was given to someone to come and check to see if it was quite okay for them. After the initial deposit, there was no money. Again we gave another deposit. And there was no money again, so, that time lapsed. And when we couldn’t continue, he now had to sell the property.
“But the attacks on Kano continued. And because of the concern, the need to have a safe house was necessary to collate information and as well as to minimize the ferocity of the attack. To have a better intelligence collation, we felt we should get the accommodation but there was no money. The NSA now decided that once there was money he would be sending the money in trenches so that we would be able to purchase the property. We were doing that but we couldn’t find such property.
“Two, this kind of purchase is not done directly, it has to be through a third party, because once the cover is blown that it is a security establishment then it is of no use, so it has to be through a third party. And as a Kano indigene myself, I was being concerned about the attack. So, I offered to do it without anything coming to me in the arrangement.
“We were looking for it, we were saving money. But we couldn’t until a after the election was won. Even at that, it was agreed that the search should continue because as at that time, insurgency was still on. It was only of recent that we stated having these successes.
“When I was invited, I told them we were looking for a place. There were documents and receipts on these, and I showed it to them. And they told me I could go, and that was it.
“But recently, one of the national dailies published a story; this was over a year after, that gave an impression as if this this has just happened. So, I now decided to contact the commission to find out what was happening and they said it was not from them. I also wrote them formally to for them to clear me since there was no case for me to answer. They confirmed to me that it was not from them. It must have been from another source which they don’t know. It could be from a third party that may want to malign me. One foreign radio contacted the chairman of the commission on the matter and he told them the story is not from them, that I have no case to answer. And this has been done. I have no issue with the commission. Nothing was found against me”.
General Isa who served as member of the transition sub-committee on security explained that though he has been dealing directly with the former NSA, the funds he received were not drawn from the $2 billion arms deal fund.
“The move to procure the Houe started in September 2012; that was the period we got the first house that met our requirement but because of paucity of fund. We were not able to procure it. Otherwise, it would have been a different story. The house would have been on ground. But like I said, there was no fund.
“The issue of the Arms deal started in in January 2015. And this money that came, it came in seven times, in trenches; N5 million, N10 million, N20 million, that was all. It was in Naira. And I believe the Arms deal money was in Dollars, right from the Central Bank, from what we heard.
“The first house was offered to us at N150 Million and the person that bought it, who is the present owner bought it at that same N150 million. So, there was no cutting corner there. It was just a service that I was rendering. There is no meeting point between the two”, he said.