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Nigeria Bans Siemens Over Bribery Scandal 


Nigeria has canceled a supply contract with telecommunications company Siemens and suspended dealings with the company, pending an investigation into allegations it gave more than $14 million in bribes to Nigerian officials. From Abuja, Gilbert da Costa reports leading opposition elements have criticized the cancellation.

Communications Minister John Odey says it would be improper for the government to give new contracts to Siemens while corruption allegations were being investigated by the Nigeria authorities.

Odey says Nigeria has annulled a recently-signed supply contract, worth more than one million dollars, for electrical systems.

Nigeria is thought of as one of the world's most-corrupt countries. President Umaru YarAdua came to power in May, promising to make the fight against corruption.

Many people see the Siemens bribery scandal as a test case for his administration and how vigorous it will deal with cases of corruption.

But Action Congress, one of Nigeria's leading opposition parties, says the decision to revoke the Siemens contract and blacklist the company was rather premature and selective.

"Our view is that the decision is rather hasty. Investigations are being conducted and we would want to know the role of each individual and, even if Siemens should be found guilty, I don't think blacklisting Siemens is the solution," said Lai Mohammed, the spokesman for Action Congress. "Why are we not applying the same standards to other companies that have been indicted, in recent times?"

Several of the ex-ministers and top Nigerian officials named in the scandal have denied they took bribes. President Yar'Adua announced, last month, legal action will be taken against anyone found guilty.

The German telecommunications giant is alleged to have paid more than $100 million in bribes to officials in Nigeria, Russia and Libya.

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