South Africa has indicated her willingness to return the more than $15 million seized from some Nigerians last year in a move aimed to please our new president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.
This is has confirmed that those who claimed the money had been returned actually lied to Nigerians.
Following the emergence of General Buhari as President, “South Africa is now considering returning the money to Nigerian that it confiscated last year or clearing the way to sell arms to the country,”
The Mail & Guardian reported.
The newspaper also has learned through diplomatic sources that South Africa has begun talks to work out a process to return the money in an effort to start off on a clean slate with the recently elected government of the Nigerian president-elect.
It would be recalled that the South African government had, on September 5, 2014, seized $9.3m cash belonging to Nigeria and a month later seized another $5.7m, claiming that both funds were to be used for illegal purchase of arms.
It was smuggled into the country through Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg in three suitcases by a delegation said to represent the Presidency. In both cases, the money was suspected to be for illegal use.
Now, South Africa wants to use the money to extend an olive branch to Buhari’s government and mend the relations between the two countries, which strained during the tenure of Goodluck Jonathan.
“The positive thing about (Buhari) is that one of the people who supported him is Atiku Abubakar. That makes him our man and he will work well with [President ] Zuma,” a government source said.
Atiku is close to Zuma. He was Nigeria’s deputy president during the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, at the time when Zuma was Thabo Mbeki’s deputy.
“Also, this man (Buhari) is a (retired) military general. It is true that the military needs some beefing up to fight Boko Haram and we should help,” the source added.
Buhari is due to take over the leadership of Nigeria from Nigeria come May 29, 2015.