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EFCC REOPENS SIEMENS ¤10M BRIBERY SCANDAL

By NBF News
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EFCC Chairman, Farida Waziri
Barely one week after President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has reopened investigation into the ¤10m Siemens bribery scandal, involving prominent Nigerians.

Already, a reliable source in the EFCC informed our correspondent that the Chairman of the Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, had inaugurated a six-member team of investigators for that purpose.

She was said to have given the team the marching orders to carry out an all-encompassing investigation into the level of the alleged involvement of Nigerians in the sleaze within three weeks.

The source added that the commission might also reopen other bribery scandals that had attracted global attention and also provoked national outrage over government's perceived unwillingness to get to their root.

Besides, it was gathered that the Halliburton and Wilbros bribe scandals might also be reopened.

The renewed interest in these cases by the EFCC came in the wake of Jonathan's pledge to the international community and Nigerians that he would spare no effort in the anti-graft campaign.

The Halliburton scandal, for which late President Umaru Yar'Adua set up a panel headed by a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, to investigate the alleged involvement of government officials, did not produce any result.

This is even as the Swiss authorities disclosed that they would assist Nigeria to repatriate over $500m of the bribe money trapped in a Swiss bank account.

The EFCC source said, 'You know that case was abandoned because of the heavyweights involved. Now, we are reopening investigation into the matter and this will show to the whole world that there is no sacred cow.

'The team of investigators has within the next three weeks to conclude investigation and recommend appropriate sanction for anybody found guilty no matter his status.

'This should be a warning signal to those that have been mentioned in any case of bribery or other corruption related matters that the EFCC will not close files on them. They can only run, they can't hide.'

The scandal was uncovered shortly after the German police invaded the Siemens headquarters in Germany over allegations that the company offered bribes to Nigerians, Libyans and Russians to get contracts.

The telecommunications firm had in 2007, admitted that it had uncovered more than ¤1.3bn in suspicious payments, out of which ¤10m was allegedly given as bribe to some Nigerians.

The company had admitted guilt and was fined ¤201m by a Munich court on October 4, 2007.

The former telecommunication ministers mentioned in the scam are Chief Cornelius Adebayo, Dr. Mohammed Bello, late Chief Haruna Elewi, and Maj.-Gen. Tajudeen Olarenwaju (rtd).

Also named as recipients in the scandal were Senator Jubril Aminu and top officials of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, Nigeria Immigrations Service and Ministry of Communications.

Others, who allegedly shared from the illicit fund were the Legal Adviser of NITEL, Mr. Samson Olabiyi; a secretary in the Ministry of Communications, one Dr. Mamza; and NITEL Tenders Board Secretary, Mr. R. Olusanju.

When contacted by our correspondent, the Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, neither confirmed nor denied the development.

He said, 'I am aware that the commission is working on the case, but I can't confirm any specific details for now. Let's wait and see.'

A former Managing Director of NITEL, Mr. Buba Bajonga; a Dirctor in the telecommunication outfit, simply identified as Allahamulafa, a former Head of Immigrations, Mr. Chuka Nwizu, Aliyu Dadi also of NITEL and some 'political decision makers.'

The German court held that some of the bribes were reportedly received on behalf of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party government.

When the news broke out, Yar'Adu was abroad and directed the ICPC to investigate the matter, an exercise that still did not yield the desired result.

Yar'Adua had issued the order in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during a summit meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The former Special Adviser on Communications to the President, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, had said conveyed the directive of Yar'Adua.

He said, 'In this Siemens scandal, as in all cases that border on good governance and transparency, there will neither be sacred cows nor a cover-up for anybody found culpable of breaching the law.'

All the Germans indicted in the scam have been convicted.

But Siemens came to Nigeria to beg Yar'Adua just as the company was once blacklisted before surprisingly it was allowed to be part of a consortium in a contract to fix the country's ailing energy sector.