Daily Independent (Lagos)| 20 April 2010 | Daily Indepedent|
Nigeria’s own internal inquiry shows that those who include former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the man who trumpeted an anti-corruption hurricane benefited from the Halliburton bribery scandal that swept away the jobs, the integrity, and the reputations of mainly his political opponents when he was the king in the Villa.
The first list of 80 beneficiaries compiled by American law enforcement agents was published exclusively by Daily Independent last Thursday.
Another report, an interim one by the Presidential Panel of Investigation headed by former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, said Obasanjo; his former Deputy, Atiku Abubakar; and former Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Directors, Gaius Obaseki and Funso Kupolokun; jointly got $74 million (N1.77 billion) from the slush fund.
The Okiro Report, obtained exclusively by Daily Independent at the weekend, was sent to President Umaru Yar’Adua in May last year.
It elongated the list of 80 persons, foreigners and Nigerians, alive and dead, among them four former Heads of State and two of their wives, as well as former Governors, and Ministers – indeed the highest reaches of the country’s political and military establishments, including technocrats – indicted by the United States law enforcement officials for partaking in the N27 billion bribe Halliburton gave to win juicy oil contracts in the Niger Delta.
Though the Okiro Report was submitted almost a year ago, it was never made public and is shrouded in secrecy, some say because of the caliber of Nigerians alleged to have been involved in the scandal.
Members of the panel included Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Farida Waziri; representatives of the National Security Adviser; State Security Service (SSS) Director General; and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director.
It was raised by Yar’Adua to, among others:
• Probe the scandal in the Bonny Liquefied Natural Gas project.
• Liaise with agencies within and outside Nigeria to disclose the names of those involved.
• Establish the extent of their involvement and the amount collected.
• Liaise with the Swiss authorities to trace and recover any money stashed in that country’s vault.
To do this, the report said the panel reviewed documents, such as court proceedings in the United States, and documents retrieved from key suspects and banks.
It also interrogated identified suspects, searched offices and homes of suspects, and interviewed persons linked to the saga.
The bribe was at the instance of Albert “Jack” Stanley, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.
Stanely reportedly met Obasanjo’s predecessors, Sani Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar, for the same purpose.
The Okiro Report said the panel relied on Stanley’s depositions before the U.S. District Court in Houston, and documents provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
It revealed that Obasanjo, Atiku, and Kupolokun, another former NNPC helmsman, Gaius Obaseki, received their own share of the bribe between 2001 and 2002.
Stanley, who has since been jailed seven years for the offence, according to the report, met Obasanjo and Obaseki in Abuja on November 11, 2001 to negotiate the bribe in respect of Trains four and five of the gas project.
The report disclosed that, “On December 20, Obaseki reportedly met with (Wojciech) Chodan and Stanley in London over lunch in furtherance of discussions. In March 2002, TSKJ won the Train 4 and 5 contracts for $3.6 billion.”
Obasanjo collected a minimum $4 million, according to the report.
Atiku’s link to the scam is said to be through his company, Intels Energy Limited, believed to have managed slush funds on behalf of Marubeni Corporation, a trading company with headquarters in Japan, which allegedly paid over $50 million to bribe low-level Nigerian Government officials.
In August 2002, Jeffrey Tesler, a British lawyer, said to have acted as intermediary with the Nigerian Government by Halliburton, reportedly wired $5 million into Intels’ account in Citibank in Port Harcourt, meant for a top government official.
The Okiro Report stated that $1 million of this amount, in $100 bills, was given to NNPC officials at NICON Hilton Hotel in a “pilot briefcase” for onward delivery to Bodunde Adeyanju, said to be Obasanjo’s former aide.
According to the report, the balance was delivered in the same manner and in bullion vans in Naira to Adeyanju.
“Reports suggest that Stanley met with Obasanjo and then (Obaseki) in Abuja on November 11, 2001 to negotiate pay-offs in respect of Trains 4 and 5.
“On December 20, 2001, Obaseki reportedly met with Chodan and Stanley in London over lunch in furtherance of discussions. In March 2002, TSKJ won the Trains 4 and 5 contracts for $3.6 billion.
“Allegations are that Obasanjo may have received a minimum of $4 million as pay-off.
“According to Tesler’s indictment papers, Obaseki’s meeting with him in London in 2001 served to negotiate pay-offs.
“In August 2002, Tesler is reported to have wired $5 million into the Citibank Nigeria account of Intels Energy Limited, Port-Harcourt, destined for a top government official.
“Reports suggest that $1 million in $100 bills was deposited with ‘the NNPC official’ at the NICON Hilton Hotel in a “pilot’s briefcase’ for onward delivery to Bodunde Adeyanju.
“The balance was delivered in the same manner and in bullion vans in Naira to the same Adeyanju, said to be one of the Special Assistants to Obasanjo.”
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