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Nigerian ex-minister arrested in $2.1B arms probe

Former defense minister said to have embezzled cash destined for fight against Boko Haram

Nigerian ex-minister arrested in $2.1B arms probe

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria

Former Defense Minister Musiliu Obanikoro has been detained by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency over the misappropriation of $2.1 billion earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram, a spokesman said late Monday.

Obanikoro was arrested in capital Abuja after his arrival from the U.S., his spokesman Jonathan Eze said in a statement.

He was questioned by officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigating the alleged theft of $6.8 billion of public funds by senior officials in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and People’s Democratic Party.

The sum included money intended for the military’s battle with Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

Obanikoro, who moved to the U.S. in mid-2015, was defense minister in 2014. He is alleged to have diverted $15.3 million of the arms fund to the 2014 election campaign. Investigators also claim to have traced some of the funds to accounts operated by Obanikoro’s children. He denies any wrongdoing.

In his statement, Eze said Obanikoro had visited the EFCC’s offices by invitation and been interviewed. He said the questioning would continue Monday and Tuesday.

Other former officials in the Jonathan government, including a former security advisor, military chiefs and prominent politicians, are being tried in connection with the alleged embezzlement of the arms money.

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