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Africa

Nigerian ex-national security adviser in tussle with intelligence service

Domestic intelligence in Nigeria is evidently anxious to stop a former national security adviser from leaving the country, even though a court has returned his passport so he can travel abroad for medical treatment.

Security agents from Nigeria's Department of State Service (DSS) are besieging the home of retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, who served as National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The DSS said in a press statement on Wednesday (04.11.2015) Dasuki was refusing to answer questions about a "$2 billion (1.8 billion euros) arms transaction by the last administration," a reference to the Jonathan government.

However, the DSS denied it was blocking Dasuki's residence illegally after a court had ordered the release of his seized passport for medical travel abroad.

The DSS, also known as the State Security Service (SSS), is Nigeria's main domestic intelligence agency. It has its critics including the US State Department, which in a report on human rights practices in Nigeria in 2013 observed that the "SSS also committed human rights abuses, particularly in restricting freedom of speech and press."

Local media reported that armed DSS operatives in two black trucks had stationed themselves in front of Dasuki residence in Abuja's Asokoro District.

Family members said Dasuki did not leave Nigeria on Wednesday because of a tip-off that he would be arrested at the airport. They said Dasuki had told agents that any new charges against him should be filed in court.

'Not invited'

Dasuki also refuted a DSS statement saying that he had refused to appear before a committee set up by the government to investigate the $2 billion arms deal. He said he had never received an invitation.

"He was invited but he refused to appear in front of the investigation," Mainsara Umar, a legal analyst familiar with the matter, told DW on Friday.

Separately, Nigeria's Federal High Court released Dasuki on bail last month after he pleaded innocent to charges of money laundering over $423,000 in cash and of illegally possessing an arms cache including assault rifles, a submachine gun and bullet-proof vehicles found when security agents raided two of his homes in July.

As part of the bail provisions, the judge ordered that Dasuki's travel documents be left with the court to prevent him from leaving Nigeria.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari

The peaceful transition of power from President Goodluck Jonathan (left) to Muhammadu Buhari was hailed as a milestone in the history of Nigerian democracy

Responsible for procurement

In his work for the Jonathan administration, Dasuki had taken control of weapons procurement from the Ministry of Defense.

He was fired after three years by President Muhammadu Buhari who replaced Jonathan as Nigeria's leader in May 2015.

In 2014 Dasuki was called to appear before a Senate committee to explain an incident in which South Africa seized $9.3 million in cash flown on a private jet and a $5.7 million bank transfer that South Africa blocked, saying it was intended to illegally purchase arms. Dasuki said the deals were legitimate.

Last month Nigeria's Guardian newspaper ran a column calling Dasuki "a victim of political persecution."

Buhari has ordered an investigation into military purchases since 2007 in his campaign to curb corruption and ensure the armed forces are properly equipped to fight the Boko Haram insurgency. Nigerian troops complain the Islamist extremists are better armed than they are.

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