LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's former national security adviser pleaded not guilty to money laundering Monday in connection with $423,000 in U.S. dollars and Nigerian naira seized at his homes.
Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki also denied charges of illegal possession of an arms cache including assault rifles and a submachine gun found when security agents raided two of his homes in July.
At the Federal High Court, Dasuki's lawyer Joseph Daudu objected to a prosecution request for a secret trial to hide the identity of witnesses. He also asked the court to return Dasuki's seized passport, saying he needs to travel abroad for medical care. The judge adjourned the case to Wednesday.
Dasuki, 60, was a key adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan and had taken over the role of the Ministry of Defense in procuring weapons. He was called before a Senate committee last year to explain an incident in which South Africa seized $9.3 million in cash flown on a private jet and a $5.7 million bank transfer that South Africa blocked, saying it was intended to illegally purchase arms. Dasuki said the deals were legitimate.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into military purchases in his campaign to curb corruption and ensure the armed forces are properly equipped to fight Boko Haram's 6-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed 20,000 people. Soldiers say the extremists are better armed than they.
Nigeria's Guardian newspaper ran a column Monday calling Dasuki "a victim of political persecution."
One of Buhari's spokesmen, Garba Shehu, has accused Dasuki of plotting a coup against Buhari during March elections. Shehu called it Dasuki's second coup against Buhari, referring to the colonel's alleged arrest of Buhari during a 1985 palace coup that ended Buhari's brief tenure as a military dictator.
This story was corrected to show that Dasuki's lawyer is Joseph Daudu.