Nigeria lost $15B in arms scandal, government says

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Funds worth nearly $15 billion were diverted or misappropriated under the guise of buying military hardware to fight Boko Haram, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Tuesday.

In a statement, his office said the discovery of money lost under former President Goodluck Jonathan amounted to more than half the country’s foreign reserves and promised to punish those responsible.

Many officials from the former government, including military chiefs and an ex-national security adviser, are currently on trial over the alleged theft of $2 billion from arms funds. Other military and political figures are accused in a separate investigation into military contracts.

President Muhammadu Buhari has made a crackdown on corruption one of the central planks of his administration.

“I believe strongly that it is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape,” Osinbajo said. “I hope the message would be loud and clear and it will inform behavior in the future.”

He refuted claims that anti-corruption investigators had singled out those linked to the Jonathan government.

“When you look at the sheer amount of money that has been embezzled, the sheer amount of money lost from any of these various cases of corruption, you will find that far too much has been lost,” Osinbajo said.