The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has stepped up investigations into the Halliburton bribe case.
To this end, the EFCC invited a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Damian Dodo, over his alleged role in the $26m bribery scandal.
A former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and five other lawyers have also been alleged to be involved in the fraud.
According to sources, other suspects in the case will be interrogated next week.
It was learnt that Dodo was questioned by top operatives of the commission for over eight hours on Thursday over his alleged involvement in the case.
Dodo is alleged to have received $4.5m through his firm, DD Dodo and Co. from the multinationals involved in the bribery scandal under the cover of legal fees.
He was also alleged to have withdrawn over $2m in cash, for purposes that the EFCC described as unclear and in flagrant violation of extant money laundering regulations.
However, Dodo denied the allegations levelled against him. He said he and the other lawyers were only paid for their services.
He told Saturday PUNCH that the legal team even recovered over $200m from the multinationals involved in the bribery scandal and should be commended for their noble act.
Dodo said, “We all worked together to recover the huge sum of money from the Halliburton case for the Federal Government. It was not a personal matter but a matter handled by five top Nigerian lawyers.
“We have also made our report available to the Attorney-General of the Federation to show that we have nothing to hide.”
While foreigners who paid the bribes have since been punished by their respective countries, the beneficiaries from Nigeria have yet to be fished out and sanctioned.
But barely two weeks after the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, indicated that the major corruption cases in the country had not been closed, the Federal Government has moved to unveil and punish the suspects.
Malami had dismissed the notion that President Muhammadu Buhari was afraid of taking up the Halliburton and Siemens bribery cases because the key suspects were top military leaders.
The AG had said that Buhari is not a man who could be restrained by fear from doing what is right and in the overall best interest of Nigerians that he has sworn to defend and protect from harm’s way.
Malami said, “The idea of fear does not come in at all as far as this President is concerned in the fight against graft. Don’t forget that whatever Mr. President does is guided by the rule of law and available evidence.
“It must be noted however that no extraneous influence can influence our actions as we move to fight corruption in all its ramifications.
“To be noted also is the clear fact that no criminal case can be closed once the facts are handy, regardless of who is involved.
The Halliburton case relates to an alleged $182m contract involving a four-company joint venture to build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island. Earlier in 2009, KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, agreed to pay $402m after admitting that it bribed Nigerian officials, and Halliburton paid $177m to settle allegations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting any wrongdoing.
In mid-December 2010, the case was settled when Nigeria agreed to drop the corruption charges against the company’s former boss, Dick Cheney (and former US Vice-President); and Halliburton in exchange for a $250m settlement.
However, no Nigerian official involved in the scandal has been jailed.
Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), lamented that the case of Halliburton had taken too long.
Sagay said the probe lingered because Nigeria had incompetent attorneys-general that had succeeded in burying evidence.
The senior advocate said there was no reason why the EFCC could not successfully prosecute the suspects involved since other countries involved, such as the US and Germany, had jailed their own citizens.
He said, “All those involved in the US have been sanctioned and the company has had to pay a huge fine. We have a list of those involved and there is nothing stopping us from charging them to court.”