World News

Former Nigerian defence minister charged with money laundering

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s former defence minister has been charged with money laundering and criminal breach of trust over 300 million naira ($1 million pounds) intended for defence spending, the financial crimes agency said on Tuesday.

Bello Haliru Mohammed served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost an election last year to President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari says he wants to root out widespread corruption.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said Mohammed and his son, Bello Abba Mohammed, were charged with diverting funds meant for the procurement of arms through the office of the National Security Adviser in March 2015.

The former defence minister and his son pleaded not guilty at Abuja’s high court and the case was adjourned until Thursday for a bail hearing.

They are accused of colluding with former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, who also served under Jonathan and was charged with money laundering and criminal breach of trust last month, to divert the funds. Dasuki has also pleaded not guilty.

He was arrested on Dec. 1 in relation to an investigation into a $2 billion arms deal.

Buhari called for Dasuki’s arrest in November, accusing him of stealing funds through phantom arms contracts and hampering the fight against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Louise Ireland