The Nigerian government announced Wednesday
it has set up a board of inquiry to investigate a multi-million dollar bribery
scandal involving American company Halliburton and allegedly implicating two
former Nigerian presidents.
Earlier this year Halliburton reportedly admitted
that it had paid 182 million dollars to Nigerian government officials over a
10-year period to win a six-billion dollar contract to build a natural gas plant
on Bonny Island in southern Nigeria.
U.S. officials announced in February this
year that Halliburton had paid 579 million dollars in fine related to the case.
In a statement Wednesday, the Nigerian government reportedly said the panel was
being set up in line with President Umaru Yar'Adua's determination to ensure
zero tolerance for corruption.
Usman Mohamed, professor of political science
at the University of Abuja told VOA the Nigerian
government is only trying to improve its negative image abroad.
late we have had the privilege of reading about the Halliburton crisis, and of
late we have also learned that the bribery scandal has been traced to a Swiss
account of about 166 million U.S. dollars," he said.
Justice Minister Michael Aondoakaa, who was in Washington last month, has
reportedly written to the U.S. justice ministry to make available the names of
Nigerians implicated in the Halliburton bribery scandal.
reports attributed to the Nigerian media and NGOs said former Nigerian
presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar and the late Sani Abacha are
among those who accepted bribes.
said while the names of the three former presidents have not been made known in
Nigeria, nevertheless there have been speculations to that effect.
people have shoved with the wave of a hand that once it involves Olusegun
Obasanjo, there is nothing that is going to be done. The present government is
a stooge of the former president," Mohamed said.
he said the chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities of Nigeria has warned
the federal government against selective justice in the Halliburton bribery
have seen the investigation that has been done by the House of Representatives
on the question of the energy crisis here in Nigeria. We have seen Obasanjo
fully involved in the scandal and the bribery and how much Nigerians have paid
to be in darkness and nothing has been done about that. So the selective
justice here is the fact that big names have been dropped before and probably
it will end up with the little boys and then it will fizzle out," Mohamed said.
reiterated that the Nigerian government's announcement that it has set up a
panel to investigate the Halliburton bribery scandal is an attempt to improve
me tell you something! Of recent, there have been delegations that went to the
United States so that the ratings of the present president can be up and high
with him sitting close to Barack Obama, the president of the United States. And
then that delegation has been turned by the State Department, and that has not
gone down well with the government. And then of course of recent, the
government has never been invited to any serious international engagement or
meeting such as the G-20 summit in Britain. And that also is a negative on the
part of the government," he said.
said nothing significant is likely to come out of the probe.
is it and nothing more, and by the end of the day believe you me there will be
nothing that will come out of it because the process here is not legal, and
even if it is legal, it would follow to a certain extent and it would be dropped
because of those big men that they have just mentioned," Mohamed said.
said President Umaru Yar'Adua's government is having an image problem because
of domestic and international negative perceptions.
lack good governance, we lack transparency, and Nigeria is still muddled in
corruption. And we lack leadership, and the government lacks legitimacy both at
home and abroad. That's the bottom line," Mohamed said.