Former Governor Ibikunle Amosun who is at the centre of an arms importation scandal was seen in London at the 80th birthday reception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew over the weekend, mingling with Aso Rock powerbrokers amidst damning new evidence of his illicit stockpile.
A video that circulated on social media showed what was reported as a few relatives of the president and persons close to the corridors of power gathering celebrate with Mr Daura, the octogenarian relative of Mr Buhari widely said to be wielding significant influence at the presidential villa.
The footage also briefly showed Mr Amosun appearing to conclude a toast at the birthday jamboree, which came as Mr Buhari embarked on a private two-week visit to London. Mr Buhari was not in the video.
Mr Amosun’s arms smuggling activities were recently uncovered by PREMIUM TIMES.
The serving senator who led Ogun State from 2011 to 2019, had admitted in June that he imported 1,000 AK-47 rifles, two million bullets, 13 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and other hardware for security efforts in his state in 2012.
His confession came after a PREMIUM TIMES’ story on how he hurriedly handed over the suspicious weapons to the police a day before his tenure expired on May 28.
Mr Amosun said he had approvals from President Goodluck Jonathan for import waivers and also obtained an end-user certificate from the Office of the National Security Adviser.
But following an extensive investigation of his claim, PREMIUM TIMES discovered that Mr Amosun only had approval to import 13 APCs to support the police in 2012.
There was no end-user certificate or import waiver issued to Mr Amosun to import 1,000 AK-47 rifles and two million bullets. It is a federal crime for any individual or organisation to import AK-47 and its ammunition into Nigeria without an end-user certificate from the ONSA.
The Nigerian government also separately confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Amosun was not issued clearance to import the assault rifles and ammunition.
Mr Amosun’s action drew anger and condemnation from Nigerians, with many calling for his investigation and prosecution.
Despite the outrage, the politician has remained quiet and law enforcement agencies have been reluctant to take him into custody or at least invite him for questioning. Mr Amosun’s immunity from criminal proceedings expired on May 29 when he concluded his two governorship terms.
Security analysts who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES express strong doubts that Mr Amosun would be made to face the law like every other Nigerian criminal suspects. His deep political ties with Mr Buhari has been widely seen as a deterrence to federal authorities.
Despite relentless efforts made to reach him, Mr Amosun has refused to comment on the documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES and the government’s confirmation of his arms smuggling affair.
It was unclear whether the politician was in London on the president’s invitation or not. Ayo Akanji, a public relations strategist close to Mr Buhari’s media office, said Mr Amosun was too close to the president to require an invitation to attend events put together by his family.
“He has been close to the Buhari family for a long time,” Mr Akanji said. “I do not think he has to be invited to be there.”
Besides, Mr Akanji said, the senator could also be in London for a different mission that coincided with Mr Daura’s birthday party.
The president’s 15-day private vacation to London would lapse on November 17.
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