Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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 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

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Adaeze said...

I wish! I agree with everything said. Happy that arrests has been made but there's still a long way to on the way to justice..

N.I.M.M.O said...

In Nigeria, arrests have almost always been made and in a few cases- like those of former IGP Tafa Balogun and former Governor Alameyesiegha - people were actually convicted but rarely, if ever, was justice done.

This is why Nigerians are actually happy that at least some people are being arrested. If only they would be convicted and made to return the stolen monies - with interest at the current prevailing rates even if it means selling off the properties which they acquired with the stolen funds- to the nation's coffers, then justice would have been done. Nobody needs them to go to jail or anything.

As it is, they will just be arrested and become guests of the EFCC and Nigerian Prisons. They will use the same stolen monies to bribe the EFCC boys and Prison Warders who will treat them like royalty for the money they pay, further corrupting the system.

There are still some 419/Drug barons in Kiri-kiri Max who pay up to $1000 per day for the royal treatment including air-conditioned cells and having conjugal visits.

Have you not heard of the man whose wife gave birth to a baby boy while he was serving a 20-year jail term?

Only in Naija.

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

I hope the noise this one is making will not eventually quiet down like the others...

The Activist said...

I just don't understand why we are still talking about punisment when it should have being carried out a long time ago. It must be done now and not delay any longer if they want people liek me to still have hope in Nigeria and that it's not inoccent people that get punished for nothing

Rita said...

I like the way you uncovered this, and I hope justice will prevail.

Ijeoma said...

Well written article!
The Halliburton scandal is one of the reasons why I become discouraged when I think of Nigeria progressing. $180 million dollars??? I know what that can do for me in the US, but imagine what it can or could have done for our people!

I scuff (don't know if I spelled that right), at President Yar'Adua attempting to hold these criminals responsible for their actions...after all, many of them probably helped him into his current sweet position, and he knows that if he tries to turn sides now, they will surely find a way to get rid of him.

Keep up the good work, I will be back for more articles...BTW, I am in Silver Spring, MD.

Beauty said...

"These individuals are mainly well connected and even well respected members of Nigeria's political elite" And they are all still at it! Mud sticks but shit does stick and smell hence the same paint brush for them all. From Abuja to the rest of the nation, all our serving politicians are no better than opportunistic thieving idiots. They can only prove this wrong by actual results.

Nigerian Entrepreneur said...

Hmnn Make we just wait and see! I know that some power brokers will be behind the screen. Presido will etch his name in gold if those sacred cows get punished at the end of the day.

TheAfroBeat said...

A step in the right direction, but as you pointed out, one can't help but ask about the selective "pick and choose" justice the Nigerian government chooses to carry out. There are several other cases, some of which you've pointed out, that the government is yet to take action on, but as I've heard many argue on this issue: one step at a time. So let's wait and see how far this particular case will go. In the meantime, all bets on hold!

Unknown said...

Like others i am doubtful about the prospect of justice actually being served in this scandal. The fact that people are prevailing on the government to take action (or refrain from blocking prosecutions) is really telling to me. The police and courts should be independent of government. Once a matter is in their domain, the process of justice should take place uninhbited but we know that's not how things work in Nigeria. No wonder there's such a lack of trust in the judicial system.

Dojaa said...

If Haliburton has been able to defraud the US government and gotten away with it I do not see how the FGN will be sucessful in prosecuting them, so what has happened to all those governors and senators etc which the EFCC has previously arrested for fraud?

Anyway is Dick Cheney among the arrested?

Danny BaGucci said...

I'm more interested in watching the events unfold this time.. If Governors got ridiculous plea bargains, there's no reason why something similar will not happen...

ScoopsNija said...

Very well written and balanced article but I cant help but think that this is all noise. The Americans will do their bit to bring the perperators within their country to book but I cant say the same for Nigeria. It's a crying shame.

Veracity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veracity said...

This is just window dressing for the international community. Nothing is going to come out of the Halliburton case. What became of the iGate bribery involving the former VP, Abubakar Atiku and Louisiana congressman, William Jefferson?

The level of cronyism and political horse trading is evident in the effective dismissal of the compelling cases of graft built up against the former governors of Edo, Delta and Rivers states – Lucky Igbenedion, James Ibori and Peter Odili respectively by the EFCC. The investigation of these governors, sponsors of the Yar’Adua presidency, is reputed to have been responsible for the eventual sack, demotion and persecution of Nuhu Ribadu erstwhile Chairman of the commission.

It’s all hogwash if you ask me. Don’t hold your breath that these folks will be prosecuted, let alone convicted.

Savvy Royalties said...

I am always saddened by things like this. Nigeria has such potential as a powerful country with their access to so many natural resources as exports.

UniRoyalties said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, however, if you have to pay people money to sway things in ways that allow you to do what you want, then the chances are pretty good you shouldn't be doing it. When profit and gain become more important and valuable than people, life, and living, we have an issue.

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