The Federal Government moved a notch higher in its anti-graft war, last night, with a confirmation that it was launching a comprehensive probe into the controversial Halliburton bribery case in which top Nigerian politicians allegedly received huge bribes in the region of N66 billion.
The bribes were taken by top players in government between 1994 and 1998 from five major companies that were awarded $6 billion for the construction of gas trains in Bonny Island in Rivers State for the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company, NLNG.
Under the fresh probe being ordered by the Buhari administration, and unlike in the past, the key players in the Nigerian government, who demanded and collected the huge sums of money and those who offered the bribes, are to be fished out and prosecuted.
Vanguard also learned that the Federal Government was keen on determining if, indeed, the sum of $200 million said to have been paid by the five companies, which were indicted over the scam, was indeed remitted into the purse of the government.
The fresh enquiry will also ascertain why five senior Nigerian lawyers, who negotiated with the indicted multinational firms to escape prosecution in Nigeria and paid the $200 million fines, collected close to $12 million as ‘legal fees’ from the fines.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, who confirmed the fresh probe being launched by the government in an interview with Vanguard last night, said both criminal and civil charges would be pressed against the suspects.
Malami, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said nothing would be left to chance in the new attempt to investigate the multi-million Naira scam that had cast the nation in bad light in the international community.
Leaving nothing to chance
Malami said: “It is true that the federal government is undertaking a comprehensive probe of the Halliburton bribery scandal and we are not leaving anything to chance this time around.
“The recent invitation of some persons for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC, in connection with the bribery, is the beginning of the fresh effort to unravel all the issues related to the case and it is going on as planned.
“I want to say that if we need to proceed with criminal prosecution after our investigations, we will do that, and if we need to go for recovery and prosecution, we will do so. Nothing will be left to chance,” the minister said.
Asked to confirm the receipt of $200 million fines said to have been paid by the five multinational companies into a dedicated Federal Government account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as declared last week by one of the lawyers, Damian Dodo, Malami said the investigation would establish the whereabouts of the said money.
The minister said that all claims related to the matter would be unravelled by the probe currently going on but did not name all the agencies involved in the current probe apart from the EFCC, which has already quizzed two of the five lawyers, who handled the case.
The immediate past AGF, Mohammed Adoke, in 2010, raised a five-man legal team to prosecute the companies indicted in the scam and they all opted to pay huge fines instead of being tried in Nigeria.
The legal team raised by Adoke was led by the then President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Joseph B. Dauda, with Mr. Emmanuel C. Ukala, Chief Godwin Obla, Roland Ewubare and Damian Dodo as members.
The companies which were involved in the bribery scandal and opted for payment of heavy fines and non-prosecution by Nigeria, were: Halliburton Energy Services, Siemens AG, TSKJ, Technip of France, Snamprogetti of Italy, Kellog, Brown and Roots of the U.S and Japan Gas Corporation and Julius Berger, which was accused of acting as a conduit for the illegal transfer of $5 million.
To avoid prosecution, JB immediately opted to pay a fine of $35 million to Nigeria and accordingly, let off the hook.
Criminal minds threatening Army with travel ban: Buratai
Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff has disclosed that he does not mind living in Nigeria for the rest of his life.
Buratai made this statement on Monday in a meeting with Army Commanders in Abuja, where they deliberated on the recent End SARS protest and pockets of violence across the country.
Information Nigeria recalls there have been calls by International bodies calling for a travel ban to be placed on some military officers accused of human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Buratai attacked the international organizations clamoring for a ban on top personnel and soldiers over rights abuses. According to him, his first trip outside Nigeria was when he was 50 and that he doesn’t mind if he has to live in Nigeria for the rest of his life.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better. The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a General, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here” The Cable quoted him as saying
At the meeting, the Army chief said recent events across the country have shown the determination of unscrupulous individuals and groups to cause chaos by all means.
“The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means,” he said.
These individuals, groups and other undesirable elements have hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.
Despite all these, the army has continued to exercise restraint applied all the principles of internal security operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagement as contained in our published standard operating procedures for internal security operations which are derived from the International human rights laws and are in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force.” he said.
How iron protector prevented my shop from being robbed: Business man
Chima Smart Nwaneri, a businessman who operates in Owerri, Imo state has disclosed how suspected robbers were unable to burgle his office due to an iron protector.
Nwaneri thanked God for wisdom saying they couldn’t access his goods because of the protector on his ceiling.
Chima wrote on his Twitter account;
“So robbers visited my office where i do my business, but I thank God for wisdom, they couldn’t enter because of the protector on the ceiling..
Help me thank God….”
#EndSARS: We are not collection of angels, Nigerian Police says
The Nigerian police have said its officers are not angels, but the force is doing its best to serve Nigerians better.
This was disclosed in a statement posted on Twitter by the force. This comes after several unrest and pockets of violence that greeted the endsSARS protest against police brutality.
The Nigerian police appear to have started an online campaign to redeem their image and rebuild trust with Nigerian citizens, following the nationwide #EndSARS protests and its devastating fallout.
The security agency which admitted that it is not a collection of angels, however told Nigerians that it is doing its best to ensure better services.
The police, Monday night, uploaded a campaign flyer on Twitter, via their official handle @PoliceNG.
“We are not a collection of angels, but we are doing our best to serve you better,” said the flyer which was produced by the police public relations department, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) October 26, 2020
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