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.
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
Group Urges Buhari To Inaugurate NDDC Board
Following the delay in the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) substantive board, the Ijaw Interest Advocates (IIA) has again asked President Muhammadu Buhari to take charge, absolve himself from the minister’s delay tactics and inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board.
In a statement, President of IIA, also known as Izanzan Intellectual Camp, Amb. Salaco Yerinmene, told Buhari to immediately inaugurate the NDDC substantive board to avert the looming crisis in the region.
According to him, “for long, we have observed that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwin Akpabio’s tactics to perpetrate illegality in NDDC is for personal financial gains.”
The president of the group, Salaco, who said Akpabio has done more harm to NDDC than ever, accused Akpabio of toying with the commission, adding that Buhari should distance himself from his activities if he was not selective in the fight against corruption in the country.
The Ijaw advocates added: “Akpabio is only a supervisory minister and that does not mean he alone owns the commission. Major stakeholders, well-meaning leaders and people of the Niger Delta are supposed to be part of the NDDC but today Akpabio has sidelined them.”
The group queried what the minister is doing with the money that comes to NDDC because contractors are not paid as contractors have pulled out of site.
It would be recalled that the Association of Contractors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (ACNDDC), had last Thursday, embarked on a protest march at the premises of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja, and decried the ongoing mismanagement of monthly funds accruing to the commission, and appealed to the Federal Government to pay outstanding debts it owes NDDC contractors.
Salaco regretted that “the commission has been largely engaged with internal matters and has been redundant since Akpabio took over two years ago and one will expect that so many saving would have been made but empty treasury is the reality.”
The group, however, warned that “some key stakeholders who have been involved selflessly and silently in making efforts for peace in the region are almost giving up gradually on their peaceful roles mainly because of lack of sincerity from the Presidency. Well-meaning Niger Delta persons, groups, traditional and government authorities have made inputs by advising the President to ignore Akpabio and do the right thing.”
Salaco regretted that “the multi-national companies are now suffering silently, they have been exposed to confront host communities on their own. Nigeria as a major oil producing nation cannot meet up their OPEC production quota just because of some selfish individuals who want to line up their pockets with funds meant to sustain peace and development of a sensitive region like the Niger Delta.”
Izanzan Intellectual Camp, therefore, advised that “President Buhari should not take the role of stakeholders, mostly the various ethnic nationality representatives who are silently maintaining peace in the Niger Delta region for granted. It is in the best interest of the government led by President Buhari to Ignore Akpabio, and do the bidding of the people for peace, development and progress of the region especially now that the unrest deliberately fuelled by Akpabio is yet to explode.”
It would be recalled that Buhari had promised the nation on June 24, 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja, that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.
The president said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedevilled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
However, the forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari since September 2, 2021, prompting the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to caution that “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC Board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
Police Nab Three Dowen College Students Over Sylvester’s Death
The Lagos State Police Command, yesterday, arrested three students of Dowen College in connection to the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.
Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, also confirmed that three out of the five students were already in custody, while two were currently at large.
This is as one week after the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior; the Parents’ Forum of the school has demanded justice and also a change in the school management.
It would be recalled that late Sylvester Oromoni had mentioned five senior students allegedly responsible for the injuries he sustained when he was attacked at the Dowen College.
Sylvester was allegedly attacked by senior students of Dowen College, where he reportedly sustained internal injuries that resulted in his demise.
Over 100,000 had signed petitions to prosecute the perpetrators of the sad incident.
The Lagos State Government has since shut down the school, while the police have also commenced investigation into the matter.
However, one week after the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior, the Parents’ Forum of the school has demanded justice and also a change in the school management.
The parents also demanded a change in hostel teachers and the installation of CCT cameras in the school.
The decisions were reached at an online meeting. In strong words against the death of the 12- year -old student, the parents said justice for Sylvester is justice for all and insisted that those involved should be brought to book.
A statement, yesterday, signed on behalf of the parents’ forum by Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, Waheed Adeoye, Oluwaseun Bolanle Ajila and Kingsley Kema Agu, reads: “This will not only bring this unfortunate incident to a closure for the family but will also serve as a deterrent to other juvenile delinquents in all schools in Nigeria.”
The parents demanded a change of school management team, hostel teachers, installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in all strategic places and overhaul of the school security system.
They decried the incident, and urged the school management team and other stakeholders to cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation into the death of Sylvester.
The parents’ forum agreed to organise candlelight on today, at Dowen College, adding “the lighting of candles is to pay tribute to a life ‘passed’, and keeping the light burning signifies that the memory still lives on and burns bright.
“Dowen College parents are startled and deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident that led to the death of Sylvester Oromoni. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased and pray to God to give them the strength to bear the irreparable loss.
“As parents of Dowen College students, we are still in shock and could not come to terms with this incident and the accounts so far provided by the school management, students and the media.
“We are, however, temporarily relieved by the swiftness with which the authorities intervened and commenced investigation towards unravelling the cause of Sylvester Oromoni’s death.
“We urge the school management team and other stakeholders to fully cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation. While we would have loved to bring Sylvester back, if humanly possible, unravelling the cause of his death and bringing whoever was responsible or might have contributed in whatever way to book, will not only bring this unfortunate incident to closure for the family but will also serve as a deterrent to other juvenile delinquents in all schools in Nigeria.
“On our part as parents, we will work more closely with the school (management/board) to ensure that necessary measures are put in place to prevent recurrence of this unfortunate incident and stamp out bullying in any form from the school.
“We will also continue to appeal to parents, through all available means, to show more interest in what their children do and who they associate with in school and at home.
“We appeal to the public to see this incident as an inflexion point, not only for Dowen College but also other schools in Nigeria, as recent events have shown that bullying, molestation and other vices among students are common in our schools.
“Therefore, we rely on the authorities for justice regardless of the social status of whoever is involved.
“What happened to Sylvester could have happened to any other child in the school. To many of the traumatised students, Sylvester was a classmate, a roommate, a schoolmate or a friend.
“We, therefore, earnestly ask for a resolution that will bring some relief to the bereaved family, other parents, students of Dowen College and the public. These should include a change of the school management and hostel teachers, installation of Closed Circuit Television cameras in all strategic places and overhauling of the school security system.
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