The Federal Government has made good its threat to unveil and punish all those involved in the Halliburton fraud, which made international headlines. Nigeria is said to have lost at least $26 million to corrupt officials in the high-wire financial scandal, in which other key players from several countries have been sentenced to various jail terms and made to pay various sums of fines to their governments.
While those from foreign lands who gave the bribes have since been punished by their respective governments, the beneficiaries from Nigeria are yet to be fished out and sanctioned.
However, about two weeks after the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, indicated that the Halliburton scandal had not been closed, the Federal Government has moved to unveil and punish the suspects.
As a starting point, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has quizzed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Damian Dodo, over his role in the Halliburton deal.
Many other suspects in the global scandal are expected to be questioned in the weeks ahead.
We learned from competent EFCC sources that Dodo was questioned by top operatives of the commission over his alleged involvement in the case for over eight hours on Thursday.
Sources close to the investigation disclosed that Dodo was questioned for his role in the alleged $26million bribery allegation against a former minister and five other Senior Advocates.
Specifically, Dodo is alleged to have received $4.5million through his firm, DD Dodo and Co. from the multinational firms involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal under the cover of legal fees.
He was also alleged to have withdrawn over $2million cash, for purposes that EFCC described as unclear and in flagrant violation of extant money laundering regulations.
But Dodo said that he and five other top Nigerians only received payments for their legal services and nothing more.
He disclosed that the legal team even recovered over $200 million from the multinational firms involved in the bribery scandal and should be commended for their patriotic roles.
“We worked as a team 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,” Dodo said last night.
During an exclusive interview, Malami had dismissed as untenable, 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.
Media reports yet to be dispelled by the administration had claimed that the government was afraid to confront the powerful beneficiaries of the scam which had landed other suspects in the United States, Germany and others in jail. Malami 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 who he has sworn to defend and protect from harm’s way.
The minister said that those who had jumped to the erroneous conclusion that the major corruption scandals had been swept under the carpet should note that the present administration has a zero tolerance for corruption and would therefore not close any criminal case. 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.’’