Nigeria Security Official Accused of Stealing Billions from Boko Haram Fight

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Nigeria’s former National Security Advisor, Sambo Dasuki, has been detained and formally accused of stealing more than $2 billion from government funds allocated to buy weapons to fight ISIS-affiliated jihadist group Boko Haram.

An investigation commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari into defense spending under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, found that Dasuki had awarded up to $1.6 billion in “phantom contracts” between 2012 and 2015 for military equipment to be used in fighting Boko Haram. There is no record of that equipment ever being purchased, according to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard. In addition, a $19 million contract was awarded to a company “without documented evidence of contractual agreements or fulfilment of tax obligations,” and another  $132 million was awarded to a group called the Societe D’equipmente Internationaux in West Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America “for un-ascertained purposes, without any contract documents to explain the transactions.”

In a statement announcing these findings, Buhari advisor Femi Adesina stated that “thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided” had the money been used for what it was allocated for. “Furthermore,” he wrote, “he ridicule Nigeria has faced in the international community would have been avoided. It is worrisome and disappointing that those entrusted with the security of this great nation were busy using proxies to siphon the national treasury, while innocent lives were wasted daily.”

Buhari had already ordered Dasuki arrested before the specific charges came to light. Nigeria’s Federal High Court had awarded Dasuki bail to allow him to leave the country for medical purposes, but Buhari’s government ignored the court order, prompting Justice Adeniyi Ademola to issue an angry statement asserting, “my own orders will not be flouted.”

Dasuki remains under house arrest and has denied the charges.

Dasuki’s alleged transgressions come to light as northern Nigeria reels from yet another attack believed to have been committed by Boko Haram. On Tuesday night, a bomb went off in Yoba, the capital of northern Adamawa state, killing at least 32 people in a market. Nigerian authorities had recently announced the finding of a major bomb and rocket facility run by Boko Haram in Borno State, the terror group’s operating base.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram have spread their terror attacks far afield of Nigeria. Most recently, on November 12, Chad declared a full state of emergency status to combat a string of attacks by the ISIS-affiliated group. President Idriss Deby moved 5,000 troops into the Lake Chad area, which straddles the border with Nigeria and has become a hotbed of Boko Haram activity. In addition, the state of emergency designation allows for easily enforceable curfews and transit limitations in the event police need to chase a fugitive Boko Haram terrorist.

Earlier this month, Boko Haram massacred 25 people in Niger, as well, close to the Lake Chad area. In Cameroon, female suicide bombers killed three, as well. The girls were believed to be 13 and 15 years old.

President Buhari won the Nigerian presidential election in April largely due to popular demand of stronger action against Boko Haram and government corruption. On Boko Haram, he has promised the group will be eradicated completely by December 2015. On corruption, he has not made as clear-cut a vow, but he has ensured voters it is a top priority for him. “Corruption will not be tolerated by this administration, and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation,” he said in his inauguration speech, making the arrest of corrupt officials a key element in his governing. In September, he also publicly disclosed his personal assets as a gesture of goodwill. The Dasuki case is among the first that ties the narratives of rampant government corruption and inaction in the face of Boko Haram terrorism together.