That Nigeria has a 'punishment problem' is an understatement. Nigeria is unfortunately, a case study of how the rich and powerful use their influence to avoid punishment and successfully circumvent a justice system that is seen to benefit the well-connected. Given this reality, it is no surprise that the US Ambassador to Nigeria announced that the Halliburton scandal, in which many Nigerian officials have been fingered, is one that Nigeria could have tackled because it has all the information it needs.
It was in 2003 when it was revealed that Kellogg Brown & Root, a company eventually acquired by international conglomerate Halliburton, gave approximately $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials. By 2007, Halliburton admitted guilt and agreed to pay $492 million dollars in fines to the United States government for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
A POSTURING HALLIBURTON PANEL
Despite the outcry from Nigerians demanding that the federal government bring to bear the Nigerians involved in the scandal, it was not until 2009 that the Yar'Adua administration created an investigative panel. The Panel was charged with naming those that benefited from the illegal Halliburton 'slush fund'. However, despite that panel's 8 week time limit and the fact that a year has passed, not one single individual has been named as promised by Yar'Adua.
AMERICA PUTS NIGERIA ON 'BLAST'
And now, adding more insult to the injury of all Nigerians, US Ambassador Robin Sanders specified on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010, that
"[the] Nigerian government and ministers have ... enough information to act on their own as there are other countries that are involved and they have the same degree of access to those countries as we do. We know that that information has been with the Nigerian government for quite sometime and with the previous ministers that have held that ministerial position. So that information is there and is there for you to act on as your laws and your nation deems fit."CHECKMATE
According to the Vanguard newspaper, the Jonathan administration is set to finally release the long-awaited list of Nigerians tied to the Halliburton scandal. On the list are the following individuals -
- Air Vice Marshal A. D. Bello (allegedly collected $15mn for a former dictator and himself)
- Ibrahim Aliyu, (allegedly collected over $35mn for himself and a former dictator)
- Abdukadir Abacha (allegedly collected $7mn)
- Dan Etete (allegedly collected $3.5mn)
- Jackson Gaius Obaseki (allegedly collected $11mn)
- Gidado Bakare (allegedly collected $60mn for himself, a former dictator and some Northern elites)
- Mark George (allegedly collected $6mn)
- Ibrahim Babangida
- Sani Abacha
- Ernest Shonekan
- Abdulsalami Abubakar
- Rilwanu Lukman
- Aliyu Gusau
- Mariam Babangida (late wife of Ibrahim Babangida)
- Miriam Abacha
- Orji Kalu
- Anthony Ukpo
- Samuel Ewang
- Aminu Saleh
- Don Etiebet
Irregardless, addressing this specific instance of corruption by identifying who took what will go a long way in getting Nigeria back on an anti-corruption track, something the current administration promised to do. Ultimately, those connected to the Halliburton scandal, must not be allowed to continue to benefit from the fruits of their corruption.