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BRIBERY SCAM: EFCC INVITES SIEMENS' MANAGEMENT FOR QUESTIONING

By NBF News
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As investigation continues into the $17 million Siemens bribery scam, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is digging deeper with the invitation of the management of the Germany-based telecommunication firm to shed more light on the issue.

Chairman of the commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, who made this disclosure in Abuja yesterday, said it was imperative to summon the top officials of Siemens to get to the root of the scandal, which had assumed international dimension.

Against the background of conviction of Mrs Ibori-Ibie, sister to the former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori in London, Mrs. Farida said she also looked forward to the speedy trial of Chief Ibori in Nigeria, saying the dispatch with which his sister was convicted in London underscored the commission's call for special courts for the trial of economic and financial crimes suspects.

Also, more former managing directors of the moribund Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), formerly known as National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), according to her, were expected to take turns yesterday before the commission's detectives probing the scam in Abuja.

The EFCC Chairman was speaking in her office during the presentation of monetary entitlement to the family members of the commission's operative, Simeon Edoga Eze, who was killed by gunmen last March 19, 2010.

Mrs. Farida, however, did not name the Siemens' officials that were being invited, explained that the top officials of Siemens, who had featured prominently in the course of various investigations of the bribery scam across the world would be quizzed.

According to her, the commission needed to dig deep into the matter so that air tickets and estacodes given out by the representatives of Siemens could be ascertained, saying the quizzing of the firm's officials would mark the last leg of the commission's investigation. On the conviction of Chief Ibori's sister in London, Mrs. Waziri said she was impressed with the dispatch with which the London court did its job, adding similar situation was needed in Nigeria so that justice would no longer be delayed.

She stated that Britain colonized Nigeria and 'we are using the same legal system, there is no reason why we can't have speedy trial here in Nigeria and this is why we have been calling for special court for the EFCC. We have special court in Ghana, in South Africa. We need to have it in Nigeria too.'

Earlier, the EFCC boss lamented the incessant attacks on its operatives, saying she knew, though, that since they were fighting corruption, they expected corruption to fight back but never thought that the people could be that desperate as to unleash physical attacks on the commission's staff to take their lives.

Recalling the dastardly incident in which Seargent Edoga lost his life, Mrs. Farida said, 'five of our operatives were attacked by unknown gunmen on March 19, 2010 on their way back to Enugu after their duties at a Federal High Court in Owerri, Imo State. While others sustained gunshot injuries, Edoga Eze was badly gunned down and died on the spot.'

'It was an attack we foresaw and raised the alarm but unfortunately, we lost Eze to the bullets of the evil doers. My spirit is lifted, however, by what is happening today. It is the first in the history of the EFCC. Our foresight to initiate insurance cover for our officials and assets will somehow bring some relief and consolation to the family of the deceased because he has not died in vain.'

She, therefore, promised that not anymore would any of the commission's be got cheaply, she assured that with the elections coming, the commission would arm its men to be able to defend themselves 'because the tempo of our work will surely rise and that means more foes for us.'

After presenting the next of kin to the deceased officer, Uchenna, his son, with a cheque of N9, 759, 985. 27, Mrs. Waziri also volunteered to personally pay the tuition fees of Uchenna for two sessions at the university.

Responding, Uchenna thanked the commission and the chairman for the good gesture, saying that the benefits and the offer from the commission's chairman would go a long way in consoling them that their father did not die in vain.