By Innocent Anaba
TwoÂ human rights groups, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), yesterday called on the Federal Government, to urgently begin the prosecution of Halliburton and its officials in Nigeria for their involvement and complicity in the Halliburton $180 million bribery scandal.
SERAPâ€™s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni and CDHRâ€™s President, Olasupo Ojo, in a joint petition to theÂ Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), said: â€œWe are seriously concerned about the staggering budget of N50 million allocated to the Okiro panel to carry out its mandates. Questions remain as to whether the panel can effectively achieve its mandates by spending most of the huge public resources on unnecessary foreign trips to obtain information that may never be forthcoming.â€
According to the groups, â€œgovernment continues to overlook or ignore the complicity of Halliburton and its officials in the $180 million bribery, despite clear evidence that they bribed Nigerian officials to secure NLNG contract and, therefore, directly violated Nigerian criminal law and anti-corruption laws, including the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000 (ICPC Act), which prohibits the offense of bribery.â€
â€œThe victims in the Halliburton bribery case are millions of poor and disadvantaged Nigerians and the society as a whole. Since the harmful effects of the Halliburton bribe were experienced within Nigeria, the Nigerian justice system could have jurisdiction for trying it,â€ they argued.
The groups, therefore, want government to begin the prosecution of Halliburton and its officials in Nigeria, adding: â€œYou should seek international cooperation and appropriate expertise to ensure that Halliburton and its officials are promptly brought to justice in Nigeria. Take notice that should you fail or neglect to do this within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, we will take all appropriate legal actions to compel you to exercise your constitutional powers.â€