A Fresh allegation of financial sleaze, reminiscent of the Halliburton saga, has again turned world’s attention to Nigerian top officials and the Police.
The festering corruption in Nigerian government’s circles caught the attention of the world on Tuesday as the United States (U.S.) government accused top Nigerian officials in Aso Rock, Nigerian Police Force, Ministry of Industry, a former Nigerian diplomat in Brazil , among others, in a multi-million dollar scandal involving a U.S.-owned business, Daimler, the makers of Mercedes Benz cars.
Halliburton, also a U.S. company recently faced a probe for allegedly bribing top Nigerian officials with $180 million in order to get contracts in Nigeria .Perhaps in its unwillingness to contest U.S. government corruption charges against it, Daimler, according to reports, is now planning a plea bargain with American prosecutors where the company will pay fines of about $185 million to settle the case which was filed on Tuesday at a Washington DC U.S. District Court.
Court papers showed that the U.S. company making German cars and trucks Ð Daimler AG Ð has been engaging in these acts of corruption in 16 countries of the world, spanning about a decade, from 1998 to 2008, violating U.S. bribery laws by showering foreign officials, including in Nigeria, with millions of dollars and gifts of luxury cars to win business deals.
For instance in Nigeria , the court papers show that Daimler made “improper payments to Nigerian governent officials in order to secure business. These payments were authorised at the highest levels of management, and were either improperly recorded in Daimler’s books and records or were not recorded at all.”
Many of the Nigerian deals by Daimler were through the Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), a joint venture between Daimler and the Nigerian government, according to the court papers.
The papers reveal that in Nigeria , Daimler maintained a file labelled “grellberschreitend e Bestechnungen, “ which translates as “cross-border briberies.”
“That file contained a memorandum dated January 21, 1999, from the then head of finance…which stated that Daimler charged the State House approximately 21 per cent over the wholesale price for the vehicles, parts, and services,” according to U.S. court filings.
The court filings showed that in exchange for sales at the Nigerian presidency, referred to as State House in the paper “in 1998, Daimler entered into a contract to sell vehicles to the Nigerian State House, which was also known as the Nigerian Presidential Complex, and was the office and residence of the Nigerian President (the “State House Contract”).
Specifically, on October 5, 1998, the ANAMMCO executive, on behalf of Daimler, agreed to sell 23 new Mercedes Benz passenger vehicles to the State House for DM15,882,302. Additionally, a used MB 600 Pullman limousine was armoured and sold to the Nigerian State House for $365,000. The State House contract was signed by a State House official on behalf of the Nigerian government, and by the ANAMMCO executive. These vehicles were intended for use by high-level members of the Executive branch of the Nigerian government.
Again, the filings stated that “the State House paid Daimler $359,985 for the MB Pullman on December 4, 1998, and DM15,882,317 for the cars on December 14, 1998. In connection with these sales to the State House, Daimler made £1,427,242.65 in improper commission payments funded from TPAs-ie Third Party Account, associated with ANAMMCO, with the understanding that these funds would be passed on, in whole or in part, to Nigerian officials to secure the State House Contract.”
Equally, the U.S. court papers stated that payments were made to “then High-Level Executive Branch Official of Nigeria.”
For example in May 1999, at the request of the ANAMMCO executive, Daimler wired DM800,000 from its accounts in Germany to a numbered Swiss bank account. The payment request, according to the court papers, came from the ANAMMCO executive and the “referenced initials … matched those of a then high-level executive branch official of Nigeria … and the funds were debited from an ANAMMCO TPA upon the approval.”
Again in November 1999, Daimler approved payment of DM200,000 to the London bank account of the un-named “Executive Branch official”.
According to the court filings, “this payment was requested by the ANAMMCO executive, approved by the highest level managers and finance personnel …and debited from an ANAMMCO TPA. The payment instructions from the ANAMMCO executive contain the initials “SH” which ANAMMCO employees used as shorthand for the “State House” deal, and related notes by the ANAMMCO executive also referenced initials that matched those of the Executive Branch official.”
Similarly in November 1999, Daimler approved a payment of DM50,000 to the “chief buyer for State House who signed the State House Contract. The payment was requested by the ANAMMCO executive, approved by senior management and finance personnel, and debited to an ANAMMCO TPA. The payment instructions made reference to “SH.”
There were also alleged cash payments made to different government officials in Aso Rock.
According to U.S. prosecutors, “Daimler also made a variety of cash payments to the ANAMMCO executive in connection with State House transactions. For example, on June 27, 1999, the ANAMMCO executive sent a facsimile… requesting that DM400,000 in cash be disbursed to him against a debtor account used for the State House transaction. The payment instruction indicated that the ANAMMCO executive would pick up the funds when he arrived “on the occasion of the advised visit of (the Executive Branch official).”
Also on March 22, 2000, the ANAMMCO executive requested that Daimler “disburse DM50,000 in cash, which was to be used to make payments to a delegation of State House officials who were visiting a Daimler factory in Sindelfingen , Germany .”
Later that year on October 30, 2000, the ANAMMCO executive again “requested that Daimler disburse DM40,000 in cash”. In connection with this request, Daimler employees prepared a payment instruction referencing “Spare Parts State House.” The payment was debited to an ANAMMCO TPA.”
Similar payments of large bribes were also listed as paid to Nigeria Police Force (NPF) officials, including a bribe of DM150,000 paid in June 17, 2000 and another DM50,000 paid later that year in October 20 in connection with the NPF’s purchase of a Master Lift.
In May 1999, Daimler also allegedly paid DM126,000 to a Nigerian government official from the Ministry of Industry who had signed a February 12, 1999 FIFA contract on behalf of the ministry. Curiously, Daimler later had to pay another employee in that same ministry another sum of DM18,000, because as the U.S. court paper indicated, that employee had witnessed the first bribery.
Declare State Of Emergency On National Assets, Experts Tell Buhari
Against the backdrop of challenges facing national assets across the country, the Association of Facilities Management Practitioners of Nigeria (AFMPN), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to declare state of emergency on public infrastructure.
The call was made by AFMPN President, Collins Osayamwen, in an interview with newsmen, while speaking on the new vista his leadership has opened for the association to play a strategic and critical role as a professional body charged with the responsibility of maintaining and managing public infrastructure if the bill at the National Assembly was passed into law and assented to by Buhari in order for Nigerians to enjoy public assets.
However, Osayamwen pointed out that public infrastructure has not been given the desired attention over the years as a result of not giving recognition to professional facilities managers who government needs to collaborate with to maintain critical national assets worth billions of Naira.
He said, “It is evidently clear that our public infrastructure is in a state of emergency and the government needs to declare a state of emergency in order to rescue our public infrastructure from total collapse.
“The reason for lack of maintenance of our infrastructure is not far-fetched.
“It is because, in Nigeria, the profession that is saddled with the responsibility of looking after the built environment does not exist in the list of professionals that constitute the building team.
“We are seriously concerned about the deplorable state and deficit of public infrastructure in Nigeria. In 2012, the Infrastructure Council of Regulatory Commission (ICRC), alluded that $12billion to $15billion was required annually for the next five to six years to bridge the infrastructure deficit gaps in Nigeria.
“It is worthy of note that if these figures are anything to go by, the situation should have become worse by now, nine years later.”
He also explained that in the built environment, architects are responsible for conceptualisation, design and supervision of the project; the Structural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and even the IT engineers are responsible for design and construction of the building systems; the building engineer carries out the physical construction of the building.
“Now, let’s examine the role of these professionals. They all perform a certain function and they leave the site once their assignment is completed. Not even one of the professions listed above is trained to look after the building. Once the building is commissioned, they all leave the site for a new project.
“Unfortunately, all the activities carried out in the building up till the stage of completion is less than 20 per cent of the life cycle cost.
“The remaining on-going activities and cost of over 80 per cent is operations and maintenance cost and activities.
“This critical stage in a building life cycle is often neglected, hence, the poor state of our infrastructure. I cannot overemphasize the role of the facilities management practitioners in managing our built environment,” he stated.
According to him, the main reason Nigeria has not been able to maintain her infrastructure is because “the profession responsible for maintenance is not yet recognised for its strategic role in Nigeria as a profession and Facility Management profession is not recognised as a member of the built environment practitioners.
“Maintenance starts from the design stage of a facility. It requires painstaking planning, scheduling, budgeting, sustainable programme management and implementation of maintenance technologies, and others.
“It takes more than culture to effectively and efficiently maintain a facility. It requires time, money, and experience to maintain infrastructure,” he added.
Flood Ravages NASS As Senate Confirms New COAS
There was a downpour in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, yesterday morning, leaving several parts of the National Assembly Complex flooded.
The central lobby at the ‘White House’ section of the building, which adjoins the Senate and House of Representatives chambers, was flooded.
Other areas affected include the third and last gate to the premises as well as the road linking the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the National Assembly.
The Senate had resumed plenary, yesterday, while the House is to resume on June 28, 2021, as the National Assembly returns from a mid-term break.
At the lobby, workers of the two private firms engaged for cleaning services at the complex were busy mopping the floor while it rained.
Water could be seen dropping from several points on the famous green roof.
Some senators watched as the workers struggle to keep the floor dry.
During the plenary, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Maj-Gen Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff.
The Red Chamber took the decision after the consideration of the report of its Joint Committee on Defence and Army led by Senators Aliyu Wamakko and Ali Ndume.
Earlier, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, had on June 2, referred the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for Yahaya’s confirmation to the committee.
The Defence Committee, which is chaired by Wamakko, was mandated to be the lead panel to screen the newly appointed Army chief.
Yahaya was appointed to replace Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, who died in a plane crash with 10 other military officers while on an official trip to Kaduna State, last month.
Until his appointment, Yayaha was the Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East.
Meanwhile, at the House, the downpour delayed legislative activities as several committees which had scheduled the meetings and hearings for the morning were forced to delay the events, as several workers and guests were said to have been trapped in their vehicles.
For instance, the House Committee on Disabilities, which was to begin an investigative hearing on ‘The Need to Investigate the Alleged Violation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and Private Airline Operators’ at 11am had to commence the event at about 12:15pm.
Also, the House Committees on Communications; Justice; Information and Culture; and National Security and Intelligence, which were to hold an investigative hearing on the recent ban placed on Twitter by the Federal Government shifted the event from 10am to 1pm.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Wike Flags Off Abonnema/ Obonoma Sandfilling Project, Today
All is now set for the flag-off of the Abonnema/Obonoma Sandfilling project in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, said that, “the project will sandfill 42 hectares of land that will help expand Abonnema and Obonoma Towns.
“It is in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Nyesom Wike during the commissioning of the Abonnema Ring Road”.
The statement further added that, “The rich culture and tradition of the Kalabaris will be fully on display at the event.
“Please, note that all Covid-19 protocols will be observed at the event”, it stressed.
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