An investigation by SaharaReporters has revealed that a Nigerian private jet caught in Johannesburg with $10 million belongs to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Mr. Oritsejafor is also a close confidant of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The CAN leader’s private plane with US registration number N808HG was one of two jets cited by South African officials on September 5. Mr. Oritsejafor's jet arrived in South Africa with $9.3 million cash loaded in several suitcases. News of the seizure of the cash broke over the weekend, triggering questions about the ownership of the jets and weapons the occupants intended to purchase.
Nigerian aviation authorities disclosed that one of the jets belonged to Pastor Oritsejafor while the second one was registered to Felix Idiga, the owner of Jafac Aviation Limited.
Two Nigerians and an Israeli defense contractor, Eyal Mesiaka, arrived in the jet and were accosted by South African authorities. A South African source disclosed that Mr. Oritsejafor's jet was released after top Nigerian officials intervened, claiming that the weapons to be purchased with the stash of currency had the official blessing of the Nigerian government. The source revealed that the jet arrived loaded with two plastic suitcases and two pieces of hand luggage with combination locks only known to the Israeli contractor, according to CityPress
Earlier today, SaharaReporters rang the mobile telephone number of Mr. Idiga. At first, he pretended not to be himself, claiming that he was the aide de camp to Mr. Idiga. But when our correspondent identified himself as a reporter from SaharaReporters, he owned up his identity. He answered a few questions relating to the jets and cash seizure, but claimed the jet we published on our site did not belong to him. Asked if he knew of another private jet named in the now foiled arms purchase deal in South Africa, Mr. Idiga asked where we got our information. When we read the jet registration number to him, he again denied that his jet was involved, before hastily hanging up the phone.