By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJAâ€”THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, grilled former Minister of Communications and the Acting Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Mohammed Bello, over an alleged 17.5 million Euro bribe scam by Siemens.
Also slated for grilling are former Ministers of Communications, Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Cornelius Adebayo, Senator Jibril Aminu and former Managing Directors of Nigerian Telecommunications Plc, NITEL, and Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN that served when the scam was perpetrated
Bello was one of the three former ministers of communications invited for questioning by the anti-graft agency last week in continuation of its investigation of the matter.
The PDP chieftain who showed up at the EFCC sub-headquarters at about 3.30 p.m.,Â spent a few hours with his interrogators after which he was asked to leave.
An EFCC source told Vanguard that Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju, also a former minister of communications, would take his turn today.
The source said that Cornelius Adebayo, who was also summoned by the anti-graft commission, had sent a letter that he was ill and admitted in an unnamed Canadian hospital but promised to show up as soon as he was able to get around.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, while confirming that Bello Mohammed was at its offices to make a statement on the alleged bribery scam told newsmen that 20 otherÂ people on the list were yet to be questioned.
Commission invites 20
Babafemi said: â€œIt is a process that has just begun. I am aware that one of the ex-ministers came today (yesterday) and another is likely to come tomorrow (today). The commission has invited about 20 people so far for questioning.â€
EFCC Chairman, Farida Waziri, had last Wednesday told journalists that the former ministers were invited for interrogation to establish the roles they allegedly played in the scam.
Waziri who declined to mention their names said that investigations were still in progress.
The EFCC chairman had noted that the recent conviction of two former managers of Siemens in the case by a German court in Munich would energize the commissionâ€™s investigation, saying the Certified True Copy, CTC, from the German court would give her agency the comprehensive list of Nigerian officials mentioned in the bribery scam.
The Nigerian connection in the Siemens bribery scandal was exposed in November 2007 when a report by a Wall Street journal indicated that four former ministers, a senator and a number of government officials had been bribed by the company to win contracts.
The bribe had been allegedly offered to the senior government officials between 2002 and 2003.
The former ministers were named as: Cornelius Adebayo, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Halliru Bello and the late Haruna Elewi.
They all served as ministers of communications at different times and under different regimes.
While Olanrewaju served in the regime of late General Sani Abacha, others were part of the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007.
The senator named in the bribery scandal was Jibril Aminu while other top government officials named occupied different offices at the Nigerian Telecommunications Company, NITEL, and the Nigeria Immigrations Service, NIS.