ANYONE who followed the dithering of the Federal Government over the Halliburton scandal would not be surprised about the silence after government said it instituted a high-level investigation that included all arms of the security agencies.
We are supposed to be impressed, but we are. Halliburton is an international scandal that is being decided elsewhere without the subterfuge the Federal Government represents. It is evident that government is unwilling to bring the top Nigerians involved in this scandal to book.
The motions called investigations were meant to buy time, hoping Nigerians would forget the case. Evidences presented in court show that Halliburton through its associates and by itself, allegedly paid bribes to get contracts for the Nigeria Liquefied NaturalÂ Gas, NLNG.
The bribery went on for years and the payments are thought to have helped the Halliburton and associates to win a contract of $3.6 billion in 1995. Trains one to six of the NLNG were awarded at a little below $7 billion.
London-based lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler, and Wojciech Chodan were central to the saga. Chodan was a top executive of Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, a member of the TSKJ consortium.
His notes from meetings recorded the various schemes worked out by the consortium for bribery and for tax evasion. TheyÂ included those bribed or to be bribed in the scheme code-named â€œcultural arrangementsâ€.
In February 2009, KBR pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FCPA, by paying Nigerian officials at least $182 million in bribes for the NLNGâ€™s EPC contracts awarded between 1995 and 2004 and agreed with the US Department of Justice, DOJ, to pay a $402 million fine.
KBR/Halliburton settled civil FCPA charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, paying $177million for disgorgement. SECâ€™s complaint was on the failure of Halliburtonâ€™s internal control mechanism to detect or prevent the bribery and falsification of its records to cover up the illegal payments.
Attorney General and Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa, five months ago, went to the USA to obtain the list of affected Nigerian officials. The trip produced no results just as other government investigations in the past five years unearthed no culprits. Aondoakaa curiously promised a trial of the affected officials in a foreign court, for a case that originated in Nigeria.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, started investigating the scandal in February 2004, the same time as the House of Representatives Public Petitions Committee.
In September 2004, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted the Public Petitions Committeeâ€™s recommendation â€œthat all companies forming part of the TSKJ consortium and all Halliburton companies in Nigeria should be excluded from new contracts and new business, pending the outcome of the ongoing investigationâ€.
The Federal Government ignored this, awarding more contracts worth $1.7 billion to Halliburton and other members of the TSKJ consortium.
Silence has descended again on the scandal. The official response â€“ of inaction – to the Halliburton affair since 2004 has not changed. Halliburton lives, it cannot die.