Giving his opinion on Friday on the arms deal issue that has generated mixed reactions, Mr Gbanite said that the government’s acceptance that the money was meant for the procurement of arms was a sign that it was a black operation that was not well planned and executed.
He said that a sanction had been placed on Nigeria in relation to arms procurement, a condition that had necessitated the plan to get arms through the “back door”.
“Attempts to bring in required hardware into Nigeria has been frustrated as a result of the sanction that had been placed on the nation.
“Going back to 1997-1998, I was in the forefront telling people like Bola Tinubu, the NADECOs that they should not ask for sanctions against Nigeria. When you embed sanctions, it is very difficult to remove that sanction. So, Patrick Leahy’s Law was put in place that banned the sales of tactical weapons or hardware to Nigeria.
“We transmitted into democracy, Abdulsalam, Olusegun Obasanjo and Yar ‘Adua’s regimes failed to interrogate that sanction while establishing the bilateral relationship with America,” he said.
‘Sabotaging Nigeria’s Effort’
Mr Gbanite pointed out that the desperation in trying to get result in the war against insurgents in the north-east led to the shoddy arms deal.
According to him, the government may have got it wrong in the process of choosing the aircraft, considering the fact that the use of an aircraft belonging to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) could give a wrong impression.
“Proper interrogation of ownership of the aircraft should have been done. The Catholic bishops are quite correct in saying that we must be able to let the nation know that there is no attempt by the Christian entity to prosecute a war against the Muslims,” he said.
The security consultant pointed out that there could be a possibility that South Africa was used in ‘sabotaging Nigeria’s effort’ to procure arms.
“If certain international bodies that had agreed to collaborate with you in the fight against insurgency refuse to provide you with critical satellite imagery information, there is always a possibility that when they heard that you are attempting a black operation they will use their power to get South Africa to sabotage you,” Mr Gbanite said.
He said that the government could not have carried out a bank transaction considering the fact that the sanctions were in place, explaining that in black operations, raw cash is required to make payment for the arms.
“When it is government to government transaction, it becomes easier to do bank transactions, but when it is not, individuals that are not security personnel could go for the operation.
“South Africa is known to have good inventory of weaponry but not a point where you can buy it.
“The is a possibility that the aircraft may be in transit to Cyprus or Belarus for procurement of such arms,” he said.
Because of the lack of confidence in the people in governance, there are assumptions that the funds, were looted funds, a situation that played out when some opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives asked the House to investigate the arms deal claims.
The request, however, did not scale through, as majority of the lawmakers voted against the motion.
For Mr Gbanite, the Federal Government should have come up to tell the world that what it tried to do – the black operation – did not work out.
He emphasised that the operation showed that “Nigeria is desperate in its attempt to solve the insurgency issue”, insisting that the incident does not have any negative impact on the nation’s image.
“The only bad thing is the involvement of a pastor’s aircraft in the operation,” he said, dismissing claims that the government wanted to buy arms from the black market.
He further suggested that the Senate committee should sit with various arms of the security agencies to ask relevant questions about the operation.
Mr Gbanite emphasised the need for Nigeria to begin to bring in Helicopter shells and arm them, suggesting that in future black operations, the Nigerian end must make sure that corridors of operations are tied in to get result.
“We must continue to do black operations to make sure that we end the insurgency in the north east.
“The President should call back all Nigerian security personnel that are in peace operations around the world so that international community will come in to ask Nigeria how they can come in to end the insurgency. Some of the world powers cannot send their personnel to where Nigerian security personnels are at the moment,” he said.
Mr Gbanite also asked the government to apologise to Nigerians over the failed purported black operation.