In April this year, a committee was created to investigate the Halliburton scandal and the $180 million spent by the company in bribes to gain lucrative contracts in Nigeria. The Committee had 6 weeks to determine the Nigerians involved in the crime and bring them to justice. Last week, the Nigerian federal government arrested some individuals linked to the crime.
According to news paper reports, some current Nigerian "senators" have been arrested while other high ranking officials are being interrogated for their role in the scandal. Additionally, a former Chief of Air Staff who also was a Managing Director of the defunct Nigerian Airways, A.D. Bello (rtd.),was detained because his account was used to disburse over $150 million of the bribe money to others. Also, $11.5 million of the bribe money was traced to a foreign account belonging to Ibrahim Aliyu, a former Permanent Secretary. Considering the reality of corruption in Nigeria, it can be expected that more names will be publicly tied to the scandal. Nevertheless, a court case will be necessary to determine whether these and other individuals are truly guilty of the allegations against them.
WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN
What remains to be seen is the actual prosecution and punishment of the Nigerians who knowingly accepted bribes from Halliburton. Just as was the case in the U.S. where Halliburton paid a fine for breaking American anti-corruption laws, so also should Halliburton pay fines in Nigeria. But more importantly, those Nigerians guilty of corruption must also give all monies collected from the company to the people. That money would be useful in providing basic necessities in many of the nation's public schools, for instance. These individuals are mainly well connected and even well respected members of Nigeria's political elite and for years, they and others like them have lived well off of their connections and positions while the ordinary people of Nigeria have nothing to show for the large sums of money that passes between hands due to Nigeria's ample natural resources and economic potential.
This Halliburton scandal is one of many ongoing corruption scandals that the Nigerian government is yet to adequately address. These new arrests while encouraging, unfortunately do not mean that justice will prevail particularly when viewed within the context of Nigeria's punishment problem. With regard to the current administration, President Yar'Adua failed to compel the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the nation's decrepit power situation despite very public investigations and probes carried out by the National Assembly last year. Additionally, the health-care corruption scandal which brought down former Heath Minister, Adenike Grange, and led to the temporary disappearance of Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, appears to have stalled while Obasanjo-Bello has resumed her duties in the National Assembly. There also remains the Siemens AG corruption scandal, in which 5 Nigerians have already been fingered for their role by German courts. That scandal, of which very little has been heard of, will now fall under the realm of the Halliburton investigation committee, despite its 6 week time-limit. Finally, far to many well connected Nigerians have avoided jail time via "plea bargain justice" or simply returning some of their ill-gotten wealth. These examples and the many more that cannot be mentioned due to time constraints will remain a blemish on this administration and prevent any genuine jubilation despite the arrests in this Halliburton case. That is, until justice is actually achieved and the rule of law, Yar'Adua's 'mantra', is actually followed to the letter.
Will Yar'Adua manage to compel the prosecution and jail time of those found guilty of taking bribes and failing to honor their duties to the nation? Only time will tell, and while many hope for the best, the most astute observers of Nigerian politics will not take bets on that possibility any time soon.
Feel free to sign the online petition - Arrest Halliburton Bribe Takers Now.
Related Articles of Interest:
- Nigeria's Punishment Problem
- Halliburton & Nigeria - Corruption Inc. Pt 2
- Siemens & Nigeria - Corruption Inc.
- Crime & Punishment: The Nigerian Edition