Ishaya Bamaiyi, a former chief of army staff, says Sani Abacha, former military head of state, transferred money to some European countries to enable Nigeria buy arms and ammunition for peacekeeping missions in the West African region.
According to ForeFront, Bamaiyi said this in his book ‘Vindication of a General’ which was launched on Thursday.
He said that the country at the time was abandoned by its western allies and there was need for Nigeria to keep playing its peacekeeping roles in the region.
The former chief of army staff explained that this informed the decision to transfer funds to “a bit friendly” countries so arms and ammunition could be bought.
“The subject of money supposedly looted by the late General Abacha is a key issue in Nigeria’s diplomatic relationship with many Western countries. I am not in a position to defend Abacha or suggest he did not tamper with the wealth of Nigeria, because I was not in a position to know how as a Head of State he handled Nigeria’s funds,” it read.
“I am however in a position to say what I know led to the transfer of funds to some countries in Europe and may be other countries outside Europe. It is a known fact that Nigeria was virtually abandoned by some of its traditional Western allies during the Abacha government and it became difficult for the country to purchase arms and ammunition to conduct operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone at that time, especially after the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa.
“In the light of the increasingly battered international image of Nigeria and even references to Nigeria in academic circle as a ‘rogue’ state, some decisions had to be taken if Nigeria was to continue to play its role as a stabiliser in the West African region, a role very much valued by the United Nations.
“A decision was therefore reached to keep money in some countries that were a bit friendly to Nigeria. This decision was taken at a meeting in which the then Minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani, was present. It was agreed that some funds be transferred to some selected countries to ensure that government was in a position to get vital imports as and when necessary.
“That informed the transfer of funds to some countries. I am glad that Chief Anthony Ani, the then finance minister, once tried to explain this in a newspaper interview publication.”
He said the importation of the said arms also put him in conflict with security operatives as they thought that he wanted to overthrow the Abacha regime.
“I was then out of Lagos and the contractors contacted me and told me what was happening. I told them not to worry and should not answer any question,” he said.
“I believe that the security operatives contacted General Abacha who must have told them that he approved the purchase of the ammunition. No one ever asked me or talked to me about this issue till I retired from service.”
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