Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the arrest of the country’s former national security adviser, accusing him of stealing around $2 billion received for phantom arms contracts, the presidency said.
The arrest order is part of a campaign by Buhari, who was elected in March, to tackle graft that has enriched an elite but left most normal people in poverty.
Buhari’s office said former security adviser Sambo Dasuki had “awarded fictitious and phantom contracts” worth around $2 billion for jets, helicopters and ammunition for the army to fight the jihadist Boko Haram group which were never delivered.
Under Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, when Dasuki was in office, Boko Haram took control of parts of Nigeria’s northeast where it is trying to carve out an Islamic state.
“Had the funds siphoned been properly used for the purpose they were meant for, thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided,” the presidency said late on Tuesday.
There was no immediate comment from Dasuki. In a statement attributed to him by local media he was quoted as saying he had always served Nigeria “with the best of intentions”.
In recent months, Nigeria, backed up by its neighbours, has recaptured much of the territory initially lost to Boko Haram though suicide bombings and other attacks blamed by officials on the militant group remain part of daily life in the north.
Boko Haram has waged a six-year campaign which has killed thousands and displaced 2.1 million people.