Jonathan Gets Reply From Military Over $2.2bn Arms Claim

Military sources have rejected former President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim that his administration bought warships and aircraft from the $2.2bn allegedly looted to the NSA's office.

Jonathan, who spoke at a lecture he delivered on “Youth Entrepreneurship” at the Oxford Union in the United Kingdom, tried to exonerate former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki of corruption allegations involving $2.2billion voted for arms procurement.

Jonathan had said: “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 2.2billion, so where did we get the money to buy all those things?”

But independent checks by The Nation revealed that the former President might have been deceived by his officials on the type of weapons that were bought for the military.

According to several military sources who asked to remain anonymous because of the “sensitivity” of the matter, many of the weapons bought under Jonathan were “unserviceable and useless”.

One said the Jonathan administration bought at least three fairly used (Tokunbo) Alpha Jets for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and two helicopters. But the jets were, the sources claimed, “not worth anything because they were not weaponised and the helicopters were cannibalised.”

NAF recently reconfigured 2 demilitarised Alpha jets. According to the NAF website, the jets were bought from the United States in 2015 to help in the fight against Boko Haram.

“The 2 aircraft are among the 4 Alpha Jets bought from the United States in 2015 by the immediate past administration to enhance the operational capability of the NAF to combat Boko Haram in the Northeast.

“The aircraft, however, before now, could not be deployed in the theatre of operation due to the inherent weapon delivery deficiency, hence its limited use for training purposes. The urgent need in recent times to commit all NAF available platforms to OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE to enhance the success of the counter insurgency operation necessitated the Service to look inward to seek ways of achieving its drive for self reliance through research and development.

“A number of vendors invited to Nigeria to assess the platforms had concluded that it would be difĂ»cult or almost impossible to undertake the project since the Original Equipment Manufacturer had long closed down the production line. A few others who agreed to the possibility of having the aircraft reconfigured to carry munitions have also submitted proposals for initial assessment fee ranging from $20,000 – $30,000 before they could come up with the actual cost for the project.

"Convinced that the project would work, the NAF consequently assembled a team of technicians to develop a feasible model for the project. The model worked on ground, and has since been mounted on the Alpha Jets, and test fown successfully. This feat is a major research and development breakthrough for the NAF and the nation as a huge foreign exchange saver, given that the project only cost about N4,000,000.00 compared to what would be required to have it done abroad,” NAF said.

However, the former President may have been referring to the purchase of six decommissioned Norwegian battleships, bought purportedly on behalf of the Navy by former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo.