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Oil Firms Fined $26 Million for Bribing Nigerian Officials

The US Justice Department says three oil drilling companies have agreed to pay more than $26 million in fines for bribing Nigerian officials to allow importation of drilling equipment. The companies, subsidiaries of British firms, are based in the United States. The fines are the largest criminal settlement of foreign corruption charges involving Nigeria. The Nigerian government says it welcomes the US action as one of the steps the international community should take to help the country fight corruption.

Godwin Onu is a professor of political science at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in the southeastern city of Awka. He told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Chinedu Offor that the fact that it took a foreign government to act is not a positive development for Nigeria.

He says, “Corruption has destroyed the image of Nigeria and the government should not watch while others take the lead in punishing those engaged in tarnishing the country’s image.”

He says the government’s efforts to tackle corruption are losing steam.

“Most of those targeted thus far are so-called critics of President Olusegun Obasanjo or his ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Professor Onu called for equal treatment of everyone under the law. “Government should take this fight to everyone, no matter their position in society. That is the only way the law would work and efforts must be made to punish firms that engage in this type of behavior.”