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Halliburton: Panel gets N45m for overseas trip

The Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, yesterday in Abuja said the Federal Government had approved N45 million for the committee investigating the Halliburton scandal.

Aondoakaa, who said this  while receiving the executive members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), added that the money would enable members to travel outside the country for further investigation.

“People are just carried away by the Halliburton issue without contemplating on cogent evidence that can be used to prosecute those involved.

“It is not enough to know the names of the players in this scam, we are going ahead to obtain evidence from USA, France and Switzerland principally to prosecute the alleged culprits.

“I view this challenge as the time to test the investigative capacity of our security agencies drafted to handle the matter,” Aondoakaa added.The investigation is on the 180 million dollars bribe-scandal allegedly received by some Nigerian officials over an NLNG contract between 1994 and 2004.Aondoakaa had said 150 million dollars out of the total amount had been traced to a bank account of one prominent Nigerian in Switzerland.

He explained that government’s insistence on getting to the bottom of the matter was not to ridicule anybody.According to him, “it is rather to frontally deal with the hydra-headed phenomenon called corruption flourishing in our society,”.

He explained that the country’’s desperate desire to fight corruption was not an excuse to trample on its citizens, saying “due process is being applied in the Halliburton scandal”. Aondoakaa stated that the era where overseas evidences of cases involving Nigeria were not passed through the office of the Attorney General, was gone.On the fate of convicted Nigerians in foreign land, Aondoakaa said the ministry was working assiduously to intervene in all of such matters.

He said that the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs were collaborating to ensure commutation of the death sentence passed on 23 Nigerians in Indonesia.Aondoakaa, however, said that President Umaru Yar’’Adua shared NBA’’s vision on good governance and justice for all.“The government is committed to the war against corruption based on the rule of law,” he said.

NBA Chairman Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), had earlier called on the minister to desist from perceived actions against the crusade on corruption.“Such actions will not only demystify the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, but embarrass the entire Bar.“We reiterated in the resolution of our NEC in Sokoto and restated our call for full probe and revelation of those involved in the Halliburton scam,” Akeredolu stated.

He also decried the alleged corruption and malpractices inherent in the prison decongestion briefs at the Federal Ministry of Justice, saying “the AGF must put his house in order”.

Akeredolu decried the delay in the resuscitation of the Administration of Justice Commission after the Bar had persuaded the AGF and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to do so.He said the Commission would provide an excellent platform to institutionalise the various justice sector reform initiatives across the country.


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