Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The trial of cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Robert Aziboala, continued, on Wednesday, where he admitted receiving the sum of $40 million from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
He, however, told the Abuja division of the Federal High Court that the money was for execution of an ‘assignment’ giving to him by the former National Security Adviser.
Aziboala, who was being led in evidence in chief by his counsel, Goddy Uche SAN, told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba that when the assignment was given to him, he opened an account with his two companies, Darkata -One-Plus Reserved account, were the $40 million was released to by the NNPC on the directive of the former NSA.
“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,” Aziboala stated before the trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
He explained that between 2007/2008, the late Gen. Andrew Azazi was well conversant with his activities in 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 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 out, oil spillage, bunkering, Kpo-Fire etc escalated.”
To show the enormity of the challenge, Aziboala recalled that during one of the presidential media chats 2013, President Jonathan spent 10 minutes of one hour interview to speak on illegal oil mining in the Niger Delta and its dire consequences to Nigerians.
“As part of his hand over, Gen. AzazI told the then new National Security Adviser. Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) of my assistance in reducing some of the vices in the Niger Delta.
“In Nigeria today, any security personnel posted to the region, suddenly becomes rich and owns a car.
“The problems in the Niger Delta lingered because those in charge of security who held several meetings with President Jonathan on how to solve the problems had no solution.
“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.
“They got the contract from the money released by NNPC. Rony Dueke is building a command and control centre Abuja, a project that monitors the entire Niger Delta.
“While the Israelis are building the command centre based on a substantive contract, Dasuki asked me to take resources and assist in the interim by going to the Niger Delta to water the grounds.
“We requested and got a letter to that effect, as well as demands for 10 percent total amount for the assignment, which was given.
“We did the assignment diligently and in all honesty, from our interventions, Nigeria saved 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
“We have payment vouchers and documents used in executing the assignment by paying those involved in the nefarious activities and urging them to desist from such unpatriotic act.”
According to the Defendant, the assignment was to last for six months and he could not present the report to Dasuki because he was too busy trying to confront the challenges posed by Boko Haram and the 2015 general elections.
“We would have preferred that the fund given to us for the assignment in Niger Delta was in Dollars because we had challenges converting into Naira from the 40million Dollars transferred into our account.
“For the assignment, Darkata One-Plus Reserve account was opened, besides Darkata alone has over 40 accounts while One-Plus has about 15 bank accounts.
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.