- South Africa says it has no intention to keep the funds
- South African Ambassador to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, says his country is willing to sell arms to Nigeria
- Mnguni says his country only wants due process to be followed
- Nigeria had warned South Africa that the seizure may have consequences
The South African government says it is ready to return the seized $15m arms deal money to Nigeria and address the issues that the seizure had triggered.
Expressing the South African government’s readiness to return the funds to Nigeria on a national television, the South African Ambassador to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, said that the step by his country to return the $15 million would put to rest the controversy in and outside the country surrounding the seizures.
Mr Mnguni stressed that South Africa was willing to talk to Nigeria in order to resolve the seeming face-off between both countries as a result of the seizure.
He said that the South African government was not willing to keep Nigeria’s money, as it was only interested in due process.
South African authorities had confiscated $9.3m in three suitcases on September 5, 2014 at Lanseria International Airport, Johannesburg, in a private jet belonging to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria which flew in from Nigeria. The occupants, two Nigerians and an Israeli, were accused of attempting to smuggle the undeclared cash into their country.
After the South African government seized the second fund, the Nigerian government issued a warning to the South African government reminding it that it had provided a conducive environment for south African businesses in Nigeria to thrive and that the seizure would have consequences.
While the controversy on the propriety of the botched transaction was ongoing, the South African authorities seized $5.7m cash belonging to Nigeria for arms purchase. The second tranche of cash was transferred to a South African company for the purchase of arms.
Willing to sell arms
“Well, obviously we also in South Africa don’t want to keep Nigeria’s money, but we want to follow due process to address it. It’s their money and so they would like to have their money back,” Ambassador Mnguni explained.
He also said that his country was willing to sell arms to Nigeria in order to contain the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, maintaining that South Africa was a long-time supplier of arms to Nigeria.
“We’ve been selling arms to Nigeria for many years, so we don’t have a problem. Why should we not sell arms to Nigeria? If Nigeria needs arms to protect its citizens and its peoples, so we have to assist them,” he added.
South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority had seized the funds, alleging that they were proceeds of illegal transactions.