Tuesday, 19 July 2016

South Africa concluding process to return $15 million Nigeria’s arms fund

The South African Secretary for Defence and Military Veterans, Dr. Sam Gulube, said this while fielding questions from journalists shortly after the opening ceremony of the Nigeria-South Africa Defence Industry inaugural seminar on Monday in Abuja.

The South African Revenue Service seized Nigeria’s $15 million meant for arms purchase at Lanseria Airport, north-west of Johannesburg, on September 5, 2014, but the money had yet to be released almost two years after.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa had, while on a three-day state visit to Nigeria in March, stated that the money would be released after all the investigations were concluded.

But Gulube, who led the South African delegation to the seminar, explained that the “issue had been settled,” adding that he would discuss the legal framework with his Nigerian counterpart to guard against future recurrence.

“The issue has been settled, but to avoid a future recurrence, I would hold a discussion with my counterparts and look into the legal framework to ensure that seizure of funds doesn’t recur,” he said.

Gulube, an apartheid era combatant, said the seminar would help South Africa and Nigeria to identify tools to develop to face today’s threats, stressing that he was in the country to learn from Nigeria.

He stated, “This seminar would play critical roles to ensure the two countries have peace and security so they can have prosperity. The defence industry have great roles to play in development and economic security and it is only through advancement of defence technology that the two economies can grow and reduce dependence on oil and other mineral resources.”

He lauded Nigeria’s leading roles during his country’s struggle with apartheid, saying South Africa could not have been where it was today without Nigeria’s support.

The defence secretary added that all the people that fought for his country’s liberation received military and academic trainings in Nigeria.

In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni, said the seminar was holding at a time Africa was facing enormous security challenges, including terrorism, food insecurity and displacement of persons.

Sheni observed that Nigeria and South Africa represented the two main economic and military powers in Africa.

He added that to avoid conflict that might arise from contention for influence on the continent by the two countries, bilateral relationship must be based on cooperation, consultation and confidence-building measures.

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