By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Robert Aziboala, yesterday admitted that he received the sum of $40million from former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), for the execution of an “assignment.”
While being led in evidence in chief by his lawyer, Goddy Uche (SAN), Aziboala, said the money was for the execution of an “assignment” given to him by the ex-NSA.
He stated that when the assignment was given to him, he opened an account with his two companies, Darkata -One-Plus Reserved account, where the $40million was released by the NNPC on the directive of the former NSA.
He told the trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, that “If the 40 million Dollars was not meant for an assignment, I would have returned it back because I have ample of integrity in me.”
He explained that between 2007/2008, the late General Andrew Azazi, the Chief of Defence Staff was conversant with his activities in the Niger Delta.
“General Azazi approached me and asked if there was any assistance I could offer in a bid to curb militancy, oil bunkering, spillage, kidnapping etc in the Niger Delta.
“I held several discussions with General Azazi, and incidentally, in 2010, Goodluck Jonathan took over as President and appointed him the National Security Adviser.
“Azazi asked if there was anything I could do in respect of the oil spillage, bunkering and other clandestine activities going on in the Niger Delta, and I said yes.
“I took risk and went into the creeks to help Nigeria checkmate the issue of oil spillage, pipeline vandalism, oil bunkering etc.
“I won’t call Tompolo, Asari Dokubo etc militants but people I have close affinity with. They are my friends and I reach them anytime.
“If you go to the Niger Delta, illegal refineries known as (Kpo-Fire) are littered everywhere and I had the responsibility to discuss with those involved in the illegal refineries to back down and engage in better and genuine businesses.
“By 2013, the challenge of pipeline blow up, oil spillage, bunkering, Kpo-Fire etc escalated.
“So, Dasuki intervened and asked me to help because nobody does oil bunkering in this country without involving Niger Delta people.
“After interfacing with Dasuki, a civil response to oil bunkering was adopted as a strategy, and I am sure, it was in 2013 that the former NSA started looking for resources to tackle the challenge.
“It was for this reason that the then NSA released through NNPC, 1billion Dollars to provide scientific way of tackling oil theft in the Niger Delta.
He said two main contracts were awarded for this purpose to two different Israeli companies, Rony Dueke and Yuvil Levi.
Meanwhile, with the agreement of counsel, the trial has been adjourned to December 4, 5, 6 and 7 for continuation of Aziboala’s evidence in chief.