Indications emerged yesterday that the South African government has not returned the $15 million seized from arms dealers purportedly buying arms for the Nigerian military.
According to reports, the money remains frozen in South Africa and has not been returned to the Nigerian government contrary to earlier claims.
In October, several media articles quoting the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, reported that the money seized in connection with two dubious arms deal had been released to the Nigerian government.
However, Mr. Mnguni has told PREMIUM TIMES that the reports are false. Apart from the High Commissioner, the spokesperson of the South African National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, Nathi Mncube, and a South African source that is knowledgeable about the matter but requested not to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES in separate correspondences that the money was yet to be released to the Nigeria government.
Rather than return the money, there is possibility that the money may never be returned to the Nigerian government again.
Responding to enquiries about the extent of the investigation into the seized arms money, Mr. Mncube, who declined to give specific information because the NPA does not respond to matters under investigation, however, said the money may be forfeited to the South African government.
“In terms of our law, proceeds of crime are forfeited to the state,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Mnguni vehemently denied the reports credited to him that the matter has been resolved diplomatically and the money returned to the Nigerian government.
He said it was not procedural for the South African government to return frozen money in the manner suggested in the reports quoting him.