Monday, April 19, 2010

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.

SINCE 2003...
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.

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.

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."
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 -
  1. Air Vice Marshal A. D. Bello (allegedly collected $15mn for a former dictator and himself)
  2. Ibrahim Aliyu, (allegedly collected over $35mn for himself and a former dictator)
  3. Abdukadir Abacha (allegedly collected $7mn)
  4. Dan Etete (allegedly collected $3.5mn)
  5. Jackson Gaius Obaseki (allegedly collected $11mn)
  6. Gidado Bakare (allegedly collected $60mn for himself, a former dictator and some Northern elites)
  7. Mark George (allegedly collected $6mn)
  8. Ibrahim Babangida
  9. Sani Abacha
  10. Ernest Shonekan
  11. Abdulsalami Abubakar
  12. Rilwanu Lukman
  13. Aliyu Gusau
  14. Mariam Babangida (late wife of Ibrahim Babangida)
  15. Miriam Abacha
  16. Orji Kalu
  17. Anthony Ukpo
  18. Samuel Ewang
  19. Aminu Saleh
  20. Don Etiebet
It is worth noting that this list contains many political figures, dead and alive, that continue to play a role in Nigerian affairs. Ibrahim Babangida, for instance, plans to run for President in 2011 and Aliyu Gusau is the current National Security Adviser serving under acting President Jonathan. The names on the list reflect a truism, that most Nigerians know already - the nation's political elite are tied to each other in corruption and only shed from their ranks when necessary for self-survival. Consequently, one can only wonder what will happen if these names are formally released by the government. Will doing so put members of the current administration at risk, given that there must be others, yet to be fingered in this scandal who will do everything to preserve the status quo.

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.

10 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

F said...

LOL @ the repeated mention of the word "Abacha" on the list... Na wa for our beloved Naija. Forgive me for being cynical but even if this list was read out from the rooftops, nothing would happen to any of these people. Even if it did, the "lower-ranking" ones would be the unfortunate few sacrificed to keep the peace. I doubt that we will see a day when IBB will be meaningfully prosecuted and/or jailed for anything EVER.

Beauty said...

I have always thought that we should forgive our looters in order to go after the ones still at it. There is still so much to loot as Goldman Sachs faces a potential backlash in Europe over the fraud case brought against it in the United States, with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for authorities there to investigate and accusing the investment bank of "moral bankruptcy¨. What do we do back home in the middle of a leadership crisis and election mayhem? We appointed a fox to be in charge of the hen house.

Now, some has seen it fit to publish a smokes and mirrors list at this time in order to loot some more. I am not sorry for sounding cynical (in all senses), let history judge everyone. I am writing for the 70% of 140 million voiceless people living in extreme poverty calling it happiness. I have many questions about this list as Nigeria National Security Adviser, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau calls the current anti-corruption campaign ineffective and selective. Most on the list are, well, you guessed it. Pals.


@ F: and that is the sad part, right? That we all strongly believe that nothing will happen to most of these people even if they are proven to have 'chopped'. In fact, IBB recently boasted to the BBC that he is the "most investigated" Nigerian. He forgot o mention the network of corruption that likely keeps him protected.

Anyway, hoping all is well.

@ Beauty: I know you have proffered your opinion about forgiving looters. I think at one point you even suggested a 'truth commission' of sorts.

I see your point, believe me I do. However, 'forgiveness' just might not cut it particularly as I believe many of these people do not see what they did as wrong. How about those whose corruption (i.e. stealing of the people
s money) resulted in the death of men, women and children? I just don't think it is fair to them to simply sweep things under the rug.

If, someday, Nigeria chooses to investigate many of these high ranking 'thieves' (and there are many not on the list) and then simply ask for money back versus putting the guilty (as in proven guilty) in jail, I think I could live with that. But, its all about the principle for me.

And as for those who you say are using this opportunity to loot some more, which I cannot disagree with, I say get the money (or at least a portion) from them as well. I shock people everytime I show them the reports that OBJ is building a luxury hotel in Ethiopia. Granted he can do what he wants with his money, but I wonder, why did he pick Ethiopia to park money? Well, I'm still looking into that nation's extradition laws. Based on a little theory I was wondering about, but I'm sure you can guess.

Anyway, how are things with you and yours?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, while 'tis very much easy for us to label these people corrupt, i would rather watch the judiciary in all of these.

In my own opinion, the judiciary is at the centre of this particular 'storm' and not necessarily the above named people as they are still deemed 'innocent' till proven guilty.

Denford said...

It is not a uniquely Nigerian problem, although it is true that in Africa, we still have a very medieval sort of existence despite the superficial gadgetry and pseudo-techonology.

Truth of the matter is that we are where the Romans were in the era before Christ in terms of our collective moral maturity. Just as power back then was bought with grain and rations, so it is in Africa, where vast swathes of the continent still feel beholden to local Godfathers.

It is no reason to let sleeping dogs lie. We need to catch up quickly with the rest of the world in how we view public servants.

Then, only then, will the world be able to make the next great leap, where those elected are put into office to exercise a collective power on behalf of the people, instead of "ruling" them.

We are getting there. Our generation must make sure we speed up the journey. Our children will live in that Promised Land.

t said...

Whether they are punished or not, where suitable punishment ranges from getting stripped of the stolen money to many years in jail (Maddoff got how many?) , it's really important that we get thieving politicians off our list of heroes.

In a lot of Nigeria, money is the God, although the richest people often got it by very dishonourable means.

Stop giving these people press awards every month. Stop kissing ass with full page ads in the paper on their birthdays.

sokari said...

Corruption is definitely not solely a Nigerian or an African problem. In recent months we have learned of the systematic corruption amongst British MPs. What is the Nigerian problem is that even when exposed nothing is done! I dont agree with the idea of amnesty for past offenders or rather criminals of this magnitude especially when they STILL what to run for public office. Expose as much as anyone wishes but based on past evidence it will lead to nothing.

Beauty said...

Sokari, you know I love you, support your work and I have to agree with your "it will lead to nothing". However, forgiving those thieves will clear up our 50 year old cloud. It is an "open secret",that Obasanjo, Shagari, IBB & others were surrounded by common thieves. Just look at the history of the wealthy in Nigeria today and show me one person out of that lot that did not benefit from corruption. Sad, but true, it is almost impossible to find an honest person among those many hail heros in a country of 140 million.

My argument is simply that our treasury is still being looted today! The higher the risk and greater the profit is the reason investors will remain in Nigeria. They value our country in million trillion dollars. So you see, stolen $100 Billion is small change compared to what is yet to be stolen. How do we out those at it now is the must do, today. Sol, huge kisses from ash fee Spain.

mingus said...

look at it this way, 'those looting the treasury are fully ensconced in power and till they are taking off forcefully, then this rubbish will continue!

Anonymous said...

The case is only a drop in the ocean of corrupt practices. We need a real revolution devoid of religeous and ethnic sentiment that has eluded us the realities in the polity overtime. I mean, meticulous cleansing of the so called political class as we have them now! Bundle of rubbish.

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