Obasanjo, Atiku, Garuba, Abdulsalami, Others Will Go Down In Halliburton Case… Or Will They Not?
By Peregrino Brimah
As Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari orders the re-opening of the Halliburton Bribe scandal, christened the “Biggest Scandal in Nigeria’s History,” the precedence-based question to ask is if he is capable and how far he will honestly be able to go in pursuing the many known culprits and metering justice.
Justice must be served, with all culprits prosecuted for the United States to repatriate about $140 million bribe money recovered from the culprits in the scandal.
#SwissLeaks, An expansive Indian Express Investigation in collaboration with Le Monde and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ report by Will Fitzgibbon with Musikilu Mojeed, this February detailed the monumental Halliburton scandal that yet remains un-addressed on the Nigerian side. The scandal from 1994 (Abdusalami)-2004 (Obasanjo) involved bribes by Kellogg, Brown and Root, KBR, Halliburton subsidiary to secure the $6 billion contract to build the Bonny Island Natural Liquefied Gas overambitious Project for the Nigerian government.
“A network of secretive banks and offshore tax havens was used to funnel US$182mn in bribes to Nigerian officials in exchange for US$6bn in engineering and construction work for an international consortium of companies that included a then Halliburton subsidiary.”
The Halliburton bribery scandal was so large that even the former US Vice president, Dick Cheney (Bush’s Dick), former company CEO, was indicted by Nigeria and cleared after Halliburton worked out a $35 million settlement. ($35 million that remains unaccounted for.)
London based HSBC bank was conduit for the bribes.
According to the report, “The files, obtained by the French newspaper Le Monde and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), show ties between Tesler and high-ranking Nigerians not previously named publicly in connection with the scandal, raising the possibility of renewed questions about Nigeria’s handling of the affair.”
Jeffrey Tesler was a UK-based lawyer who had through years of Nigerian real estate business, gotten close to the nation’s corrupt leadership.
There was so much bribery involved in the dirty case, implicated Lawyer Tesler at a point had a duffel bag with $1 million in US notes, dropped off at a luxury hotel, the foyer, in Abuja.
“Leaked files reveal that Tesler had financial ties to two former Nigeria officials: now-retired Major General Chris Garuba, chief of staff to former Nigerian president Abdulsalami Abubakar who himself allegedly received bribes as president; and Andrew Agom, a senior government official who was killed in an attack on a motorcade. Bank staff also responded to a request from Agom’s widow to unfreeze her husband’s account, whose post was sent to Tesler’s North London law firm and which was marked as subject to criminal investigations into Tesler. The files do not indicate whether or not the account was ultimately unfrozen. Garuba, a former governor of Northeastern Bauchi state, is now chairman of Obekpa Petroleum, a Nigerian oil company. Before his death, Agom was a board member of the People’s Democratic Party, which controlled the government when this affair unfolded.” – ICIJ report.
The Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar government of 1999-2007 were handed the baton and implicated in the Halliburton bribery case. A former Nigerian Air Force Chief, Abdullahi Dominic Bello also had implicated Swiss bank accounts involved in the dealings.
A former KBR Inc. (Halliburton subsidiary) chief executive received two and a half years in prison, 3 years probation and $1000/month to be paid in restitution in 2012 for his role in the scandal. KBR paid a $402 million criminal fine to the US government for foreign bribery. “KBR and Halliburton also paid $177 million to settle civil complaints related to the bribery.”
While Tesler was charged in a French corruption investigation and served his sentence, there has been no action on the Nigerian side.
Abdusalami and Obasanjo Forced Jonathan To Close Case
As America again insists that new president Muhammadu Buhari re-open this case — which he has– “It will be recalled that President Jonathan had (likewise) directed the Police to resuscitate the investigative report of the $180million Halliburton scam following America’s insistence that the culprits in the bribery scandal must be brought to book before the $130million in US coffers can be returned to Nigeria,” Vanguard reported in 2010.
But following the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan that the investigative report into the Halliburton bribery scandal be re-opened and the major culprits re-arrested, Vanguard in its 2012 report, gathered that this action by Jonathan resulted in a fall out between two former heads of state and President Jonathan. Vanguard captioned it, “$180m HALLIBURTON SCANDAL: Two ex-Heads of State battle Jonathan.”
President Jonathan was subdued to abandon the mission to open the investigation.
#NoProbeNoHope: Nigerians Stand By The President To Probe All Culprits And Deliver Justice
With over 100 million Nigerians living under a-dollar-a-day and deprived of security, the nation voted in Buhari for the very reason and gave him the mandate to deliver it from corruption and probe and punish all culprits.
How will the battle go this time? Will Buhari defeat the monster and recover Nigeria’s money and pride or will the monster subdue Buhari and dismantle his legacy?
Dr. Peregrino Brimah; http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something] Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @EveryNigerian