Buhari's Nigeria: Big names charged in court over missing billions

Former powerful national adviser Sambo Dasuki and a media magnate have been charged in crackdown by president Muhammadu Buhari's regime.

NIGERIAN prosecutors on Monday charged the former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki with corruption, in the latest fraud case to hit a key member of the previous regime.

And in a related case, a court granted conditional bail to media magnate Raymond Dokpesi, who is accused to collecting billions of naira from Dasuki.

Dasuki, 60, served as national security adviser under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan from June 2012 until his sacking in July by President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May.

The former spy master is already facing illegal possession of weapons charges, as well as being under investigation for awarding some $2 billion in bogus deals for fighter jets, helicopters, weapons and ammunition to fight the deadly Boko Haram Islamist group.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Dasuki and four others of misappropriation of public funds, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

The suspects were alleged to have diverted millions of dollars meant for security to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to finance Jonathan’s bid for re-election.

They were also accused of making illegal payments to some media owners as well as for “organising prayers” for the party.

Dasuki and the other suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case was adjourned to Tuesday.

Dokpesi, the founder of the country’s first private radio and television station, is facing fraud and money laundering charges.

The head of Raypower FM and Africa Independent Television (AIT), was brought before a federal high court in Abuja last week on six charges of corruption.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges of collecting 2.1 billion naira ($10.5 million, 9.6 million euros) from Dasuki.

The charges allege that between October 2014 and March 2015 Dokpesi, who is chairman of Daar Communications, “conducted procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt act”.

The money was to provide publicity to the then-president Jonathan’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party.(PDP).

Surrenders passport

On Monday, judge Gabriel Kolawole granted him bail setting it at 200 million naira ($1 million) and on condition that he surrenders his passport.

The court then adjourned to February 17 for the start of the trial.

Buhari has launched a crackdown on endemic graft with some high-profile arrests made over the fictitious arms contracts to fight Boko Haram.

Under Jonathan, Boko Haram captured swathes of territory in its quest for a hardline Islamic state in the remote northeast, threatening Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Troops regularly complained they lacked weapons and equipment to fight the better-armed rebels until the involvement of armies from neighbouring countries joined the fight in January.

The insurgency has left at least 17,000 dead since 2009 and made more than 2.6 million people homeless. (AFP)

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