The Conference of Islamic Organisations (CIO), a coalition of Muslim organisations, central mosques, Muslim professional bodies and faith-based organisations has described the $9.3m cash-for-arms-deal as a criminal act.
CIO, thus warned of great consequences in case of cover up and the perpetrators not brought to book.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014, at the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria Hall, Ajao Road, Surulere, Lagos, CIO Convener, Sheikh AbdurRahman Ahmad, described as “ungodly and sinister” the relationship between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) president, Pastor Ayo Joseph Oritsejafor with their latest attempted scandalous money-laundering and illegal arms procurement in South Africa.
With Ahmad were various heads of Islamic organisations including, CIO Lagos State Coordinator, Imam Abdullahi Shuaib; Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) Prof Ishaq Lakin Akintola; National Missioner, Al-Fatiu Quareeb Society of Nigeria Sheikh AbdurRahman Adangba; among others.
The group rejected the “flimsy arguments” given by the Federal Government as well as the lame cover up by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in its paid advertorial carried on page 12 of The Nation newspaper on Sunday, 21 September, 2014.
“The Conference of Islamic Organisations unequivocally reject the position canvassed by the General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake to exonerate the president of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor from the smuggled cash and illegal arms deals in their paid advertorial on page 12 of The Nation newspaper on Sunday, 21st September, 2014. It is unfortunate that CAN is not addressing the issue at stake, this is money laundering, violation of cashless policy and illegal arms procurement with the Jet of its president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor but rather dissipating its energy and resources on personalising the matter by joining issues with a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
“In the same vein, we find the position and reaction of the Federal Government to the cash-arms-deal terribly appalling. It is a very bad attempt at sweeping a gravely criminal act under the carpet. It is not a mere “procedural error”. It is a well-coordinated attempt at covertly undermining national security. Such an argument on the part of government and its cohort is not only lame, laughable and ludicrous but provocative, vexatious and an insult on the collective intelligence of Nigerians,” he said.
The group called on the National Assembly to get to the root of “this scandal which has ridiculed the image of Nigeria in the world. We deserve to know why a calculated and deliberate attempt was made to smuggle such a large amount of cash out of the country into South Africa, it must also identify the identities of the two Nigerians involved and their ethno-religious background; and verify and confirm where was the money sourced from? Is it from the Central Bank of Nigeria or where? Was it appropriated by the National Assembly or otherwise? Who authorised the transaction? And which arms of the security agency are the equipment meant for?”
While urging Muslims to remain calm, peaceful and law-abiding until the root of the “scandalous transaction” is uncovered, the group wondered if the “scandalous arms procurement deal associated with the private Jet of Pastor Oritsejafor and large sum of cash was not part of the preparation to fully arm and fortify the Niger-Delta militants, political thugs and “snipers” which former president Olusegun Obasanjo alleged in his 18-page letter Before It is Too Late written to President Goodluck Jonathan of ‘…training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes…’ more so that the likes of Elder Edward Clark and his boys have sworn that if President Goodluck Jonathan did not win the 2015 presidential election, there would be nothing like Nigeria again.”
According to the organisations, if indeed the money was meant for a legitimate procurement of arms for the Nigerian security agencies, the following pertinent questions needs convincing and logical answers:
“Are there no official Jets in government fleets that could be used to transact such an important deal?
“Why has the government of President Goodluck Jonathan chosen to conduct its arms procurement outside the normal official channels but through the private jet of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)?
“Is the covert arms buying with the private jet of a Christian leader and president of CAN in particular not suspicious and would further heat up the polity?
“Otherwise, why would such a huge cash of money be moved by the Federal Government in a private jet by private persons and no single official from the office of the National Security Adviser or Department of State Services or the military involve?
“Why did the Federal Government fail to officially notify the South African Government of the cash-for-arms deal until it was apprehended by the latter government agency?
“Is the movement of such huge amount of cash not a negation of the cashless policy of the Federal Government?
“If in truth and honesty the cash-arms-deal is legitimate, why did the Federal Government fail to follow the protocol of notifying officials of Nigerian Embassy in South Africa so that all necessary arrangements would have been made to declare and clear the cash on arrival in South Africa?
“If truly the transaction is legitimate, why was the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) in South Africa, a body vested with the power to approve the import and export of any weapons as well as issue permits for such transactions not aware of any applications from the Federal Government of Nigeria?
“If the Federal Government is not been economical with the truth, why transacting such a deal with Tier One and ESD, both unregistered firms with the NCACC in South Africa? Or Is the Federal Government claiming ignorance that both firms are not authorised to enter into any agreements regarding rental or/and sale of military equipment?
“Was it a mere coincidence that it was the private jet of the president of CAN, a kinsman of President Goodluck Jonathan who has consistently advocated that the Federal Government has not been doing much to tackle the insurgency in the northern parts of the country, particularly in the Muslim dominated regions of Nigeria that was used by the contractor(s) of arms procurement?
“Or has the Federal Airports Authority of Nigerian (FAAN) laws guiding the usage of non-scheduled commercial operators been amended to allow private jets owners such as the one belonging to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of CAN use their planes for commercial purposes illegally?
“Against this background, CIO takes exemption to the way the Federal Government tries to cover up this illegal transaction. Our fears are being confirmed that Muslims are no longer safe in Nigeria with the ongoing Federal Government and President Goodluck Jonathan-Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor CAN-leadership. We are not surprised that Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has hijacked CAN for his selfish interest and succeeded two years ago in frustrating the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to suspend its participation at CAN meetings at the national level ‘over some recent attitudes, utterances and actions of the national leadership of CAN…’
“CIO therefore believes that the illegal arms procurement is not unconnected with the political ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan and ably assisted by his kinsman and close friend, the president of CAN whom the Catholic bishops lamented has politicised CAN and using it to divide Nigerians on ethno-religious lines as ‘CAN is being dragged into partisan politics thereby compromising the ability to play its true role as conscience of the nation and the voice of the voiceless.’”
Fielding questions from reporters, Imam Shuaib and Prof Akintola declared that Muslims in Nigeria has lost confidence in the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Jonathan, the duo said, has consistently taken actions insultive to the sensibilities of the Nigerian Muslims.
“The composition of the members of the recently concluded National Conference which had majority of its members as Christians, short-changing Muslims in national appointments is still very fresh in our memories,” Shuaib said.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has not demonstrated respect for the Muslims; we have seen his (Jonathan) continuous systematic plan to shut out Muslims from the system; security agencies have secretly and consistently been kidnapping, harassing and molesting Islamic scholars without condemnation from the authority. No doubt, President Jonathan has betrayed the trust Muslims reposed in him,” Akintola said.