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Ex-Nigerian Official Accused of Siphoning Billions

Charged with illegal possession of weapons and acts that pose potential harm to national security, gormer National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, right, arrives at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, Sept. 1, 2015.

Nigeria's president has ordered the arrest of a former national security adviser who is accused of stealing billions of dollars meant to buy weapons for the fight against Boko Haram militants.

Witnesses tell VOA's Hausa service that police have surrounded the house of Sambo Dasuki in the capital, Abuja, and are refusing to let him leave, despite a judge's ruling that Dasuki can go abroad for medical treatment.

Dasuki was the national security adviser to former president Goodluck Jonathan, who current President Muhammadu Buhari defeated in the March elections.

The government said Tuesday that between 2012 and 2015, Dasuki awarded fake contracts worth more than $2 billion for fighter jets, helicopters, bombs and ammunition that were never supplied to the Nigerian Air Force. It said his office also awarded $2.4 billion in "failed contracts."

A statement from Buhari adviser Femi Adesina says: "Had the funds siphoned to these non-performing companies been properly used ... thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided."

The government also accuses Dusaki of transferring $132 million to accounts in West Africa, Britain and the United States without explanation.

In a press release Wednesday, Dusaki says he was never invited to speak before the panel investigating the alleged corruption. He neither confirmed nor denied the accusations.

Early this year, while Dusaki was still in office, Nigeria made progress against Boko Haram, recapturing militant-ruled areas in the northeast with the help of troops from Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Frequent suicide bombings and shooting attacks continue, however. Amnesty International estimates that Boko Haram has killed more than 3,500 civilians this year alone in Nigeria. The group has been fighting since 2009 to create a strict Islamic state in the north.

The accusations against Dusaki follow an interim report by a committee investigating arms procurement for Nigeria's military. For years, soldiers said they were underequipped for combat against Boko Haram.

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