Halliburton scandal: FG demands convincing evidence
Nigeria -The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa has said that the Federal Government does not have any convincing evidence or information about the case to warrant the prosecution of anyone involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal.
Photo: Sun News Publishing
A twist has emerged in the Halliburton bribery scandal with the Federal Government saying it does not have any convincing evidence or information about the case to warrant the prosecution of anyone.
The new government’s position on the issue was sequel to what it called shocking discovery that $150 million out of the $180 million bribe money allegedly used in bribing the unnamed top Nigerian officials is trapped in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa, made the revelation on Wednesday when he fielded questions from the State House correspondents in Abuja shortly before the Federal Executive Council meeting, adding that government was yet to find out in whose account the money was lodged.
“For instance, we have discovered that $150 million of the bribe money is in Zurich. That is the first shocking discovery. The entire money is $180 million and $150 million is already in Zurich trapped there, he said, pointing out the need for more information to guide government in taking any action.
Saying government would not prosecute anyone based on newspaper reports, he said with the discovery and given that the facts of the judgement of the US court on the matter were yet to be made available to it, appropriate government’s decision would have to await more information about the case.
Aondoakaa contended that the mere fact that someone alleged that certain amount of money was voted for the bribery of some government officials to influence the award of contract to his firm did not translate to the actual bribing of those named.
“There must be evidence that must be tendered to show that that money was handed over to you. Is it through wire transfer or is it through somebody? So these are some of the things we want to establish. The mere fact that somebody wrote in his book that I have voted $40 million that he wants to bribe you does not mean that you have taken bribe. He can vote that money and pocket his money,” he stated.
Responding to a question on the identities of those involved in the bribery scandal, he explained that it was not as if government had their names and chose to conceal them from the public, pointing out that the US was yet to declassify the information where the names of the accused were contained.
“The judgement is under seal and you are talking as if we the people sealed the names in the court, so you can’t get the names.
Except the US government releases it under classified information out of US government or unless you go to the US government, they will not release the names to you and you are talking as if the president has the names.
“All these names you get, let me make it clear to you, government does not prosecute out of the newspaper reports. If somebody said I voted $40 million for you which is his own wish and if the money does not reach you, can I come and prosecute you because in his book he wrote $40 million?” he asked.
Asked how he knew that $150 million of the $180 million of the bribe money was trapped in Zurich, the attorney-general answered: “Am I not the chief law officer of this country? I went to US and we had useful information, but when we need official information because I don’t want to rely on just information. For me, even if you are talking to me, sharing ideas with me, I must have all the information authenticated by the government.
Aondoakaa, however, assured that government would not hesitate to prosecute anyone found to have committed any crime in the country, adding that the US government had remained friendly and cooperating on the matter.
From LUCKY NWANKWERE, Sun News Online