Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, has denied claims by a South African newspaper, Mail and Guardian, of a deal between Nigeria and South Africa to swap bodies of victims of the Synagogue building collapse for the arms money the latter seized. According to PREMIUM TIMES, Abati stated that there was no relation “between the repatriation of the body and the arms money.” He described the allegation as “completely absurd” and “a disservice to the memory of the dead.”
Abati was reported to have attributed the delay in the repatriation of the bodies to process required for forensic identification of the bodies. He said it was “preposterous” to impute politics into the release of the dead bodies to South Africa.
Mail and Guardian had reported it saw two letters written by Jeff Radebe, the South African special envoy mandated to facilitate the repatriation of the bodies of the victims, to Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations and South African National Conventional Arms Control Committee, NCACC, in which he attempted to legitimise the botched arms deal. The newspapers said Radebe in the letter said
“South Africa deems it (arms deal) a bona fide error.”