The Deputy National Leader of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Paul Unongo, has called for the investigation of former President Goodluck Jonathan over the $2.1 billion arms deal scandal.
The former National Security Adviser in the Jonathan administration, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), whose office supervised the funds and who is currently standing trial alongside others for the diversion of the arms fund, in his defense, claimed to have acted on instructions he received from the ex-president.
As the former president keeps mum in the face of mind-boggling corruption that have been unearthed in the use of the funds meant to procure arms and munitions for the Nigerian Armed Forces to confront the problem of insurgency in the Northeast, Unongo, said Jonathan should be jailed if found to have corruptly benefited from the fund and refuses to refund his share of the loot.
The former minister of power and steel in the Second Republic, however, said the former president deserved consideration for conceding defeat in the last general elections and by helping the country to avert an impending national crisis.
These two facts, according to him, should make Mr. Jonathan’s punishments mild, if found guilty of stolen funds.
Unongo expressed these views on Monday in Makurdi, Benue State.
“There are three points to make on the arms probe. The first is that Jonathan deserves a special consideration for his contribution to democratic culture in Nigeria and for enabling us to avert a national crisis by conceding defeat during the general elections. He also mobilised support for the present government. Jonathan was great in defeat. He is a hero for doing this.
“Secondly, if the anti-graft agency can prove beyond reasonable doubt that he diverted public funds and if Jonathan agrees to return the stolen funds, he should not be humiliated but he should be given due consideration.
“Thirdly, if it is proved by a transparent process that he stole the country’s money and he refuses to return it, then the law should take its course, whether he is a former President or not. He should be prosecuted and jailed. This is important in order to serve as a deterrent to others”, he said.
Unongo, however, berated the former president’s advisers who have been attempting to justify their roles in the alleged diversion of the arms funds based on the excuse that they acted under instructions from the Presidency.
He said such advisers should be held liable for their actions because they had the opportunity to advise the former president against any form of illegality.
According to him, Jonathan’s advisers and ministers who were uncomfortable with his style of governance should have resigned their appointments if the then president had refused to heed their advice.
“I was a minister in this country and that did not stop me from speaking the truth to the President. Jonathan’s advisers who are claiming they acted under instructions to justify their alleged theft are lying.
“Jonathan paid them to advise him so they are liable for their actions. If you advised Jonathan rightly and he said no, you should have resigned your appointment”, he stressed.
The elder statesman added that the Federal Government had not ordered the arrest of Jonathan because the government “was trying to be careful and abide by the dictates of the law in order not to be seen as dictatorial”.
“I think President Buhari is trying to be careful in not summoning Jonathan so far. I don’t believe there was an agreement President Buhari had not to probe Jonathan as being reported”, he said.