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Halliburton Scam: Nigeria Has Enough Evidence To Act – US …Findings ‘ll Be Made Public Soon – EFCC

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United States has said the Federal Government of Nigeria has “enough information” to act on the Halliburton bribery scandal in which some top Nigerian government officials and politicians were fingered.

Speaking at the Foreign Press Center in Washington D.C., Wednesday, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Robin Rene Sanders said it was not true that her country did not give necessary information to the Nigerian Government to enable it prosecute those involved in the bribery scandal.

Sanders said: “We have been cooperating fully with the Nigerian authorities on all of those cases”.

The engineering subsidiary of Halliburton Co., Kellog Brown & Root (KBR) Inc. of the US, had pleaded guilty to five federal charges that it paid $180 million as bribes to some high profile Nigerian officials in the Executive branch, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in respect of a contract worth $6 billion.

The Federal Government had said $150 million of the bribe money had been traced to an unnamed account in Zurich, Switzerland.

But the real identities of the Nigerian government officials that received the bribes have not been officially released.

The Federal Government had also said it formally requested the US government to assist Nigeria by de-classifying the information of the court proceedings in the US in respect of the scandal but that, that government had failed to do so.

In 2008, the Federal Government put in place an inter-security agency committee headed by former Inspector-General of Police Mike Okiro to investigate the Halliburton bribe-for-contract scandal.

At the press conference jointly addressed by the US envoy and her Nigerian counterpart, Professor Adebowale Adefuye, Sanders said: “Nigerian government and ministers have that information and they have enough information to act on their own as there are other countries that are involved and they have the same degree of access to those countries as we do.

“We know that that information has been with the Nigerian government for quite sometime and with the previous ministers that have held that ministerial position. So that information is there and is there for you to act on as your laws and your nation deems fit.”

Sanders, however, announced US endorsement of the ongoing banking reforms, saying it forms part of the framework to tackle corruption.

She said US hopes that those who compromised their positions in the sector would be taken through the nation’s judicial process.

 ”I like to seize this opportunity to talk about the banking reforms and we are hoping that Nigeria still moves forward on the banking reforms as part of your corruption framework or part of your anti-corruption framework. And secondly, those individuals who took advantage of shareholders, in the context of their positions, we hope that those individuals are taken through the judicial process as part of Nigeria’s commitment to rule of law and anti-corruption efforts,”

On what US is doing to help strengthen Nigeria’s anti-corruption crusade, Sanders said the US embassy in Nigeria has been providing training programmes for all the law enforcement agencies on money laundering, suspicious transaction reports and handling of currency confirmation evidence.

She said her country has also been providing technical assistance to the nation’s anti-corruption agencies with a view to enhancing their capabilities.

Commenting on the fears about the next general election and how US intends to assist Nigeria, Sanders said her country had been expressing the view that it does not see the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as presently constituted as laying the foundation that can produce fair and credible elections in 2011.

Sanders said US would like to see an electoral body that has a clear dedicated leadership that would ensure that Nigeria has transparent elections in 2011.

She noted US would be working with Nigeria under the bi-national commission signed last Tuesday between the two countries to strengthen the election process that would ensure transparent, free, fair and credible polls.

This, she said, involves a number of changes including better leadership in INEC and transparent voters’ register, among others.

Responding to a question on the image crisis Nigeria is experiencing as a result of advance fee fraud and emails scam, Adefuye said such allegations are unfair to Nigeria.

The Nigerian envoy said there were instances when the embassy had been informed of criminal cases affecting ‘Nigerians’, only to later discover that those involved are blacks from other African countries.

He noted that the population of Nigeria is more than that of all the countries in West Africa put together, and as such, the world should realise that with such a huge population, it is not unusual for Nigeria to have its own share of miscreants.

Adefuye said this does not, however, take away the fact that the larger population is made up of responsible, hard-working, intelligent and enterprising people.

 Meanwhile, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs Farida Waziri, in Abuja, on Wednesday, disclosed that investigation was ongoing in the Halliburton bribery scandal and findings would be made known soon.

Former heads of state, presidents and top government functionaries in Nigeria had been fingered in the $180 million bribery scandal which had seen some of the company’s executives jailed in the United States of America.

Waziri was reacting to a statement credited to the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, that the probe had been stalled.

Akeredolu had, at the fifth Business Law conference organised by the Section on Business Law of the NBA, on Monday, said it was a shame that one year after the panel was constituted to investigate the scam, no report had been submitted and no prosecution initiated.

Waziri, while receiving the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in her office, said the committee set up by the Federal Government to investigate the scandal had been working hard at unravelling the facts of the case and would soon make its findings public.

According to her, “the committee, headed by the Inspector General of Police, is leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the case and it is my belief that it will not be long before a definite pronouncement is made on it.”

She also lambasted Nigerian leaders for being selfish, adding that they had failed their generation, while urging the students to stop the leaders from compromising their future through corrupt practices.

“Let me remind you that as youths and future leaders, Nigeria’s hope of a better tomorrow lies in you, because quite a large number of our present leaders have failed the nation.

“So if you have been disappointed by our leaders, you can’t afford to disappoint yourselves so that your own generation won’t be as wasteful and wasted as ours.

“It is obvious; not many of our leaders seem to be interested in working for your future, as the level of decadence and infrastructural decay in our institutions pin-points.

“All of us, as stakeholders, must ensure that we do all that is possible to fight this cankerworm to a standstill,” she said.

Explaining the purpose of the visit to the headquarters of the anti-graft commission, president of NANS, Jude Imagwe, expressed the student body’s willingness to partner with the EFCC to kick out corruption, not only in the education sector, but also in the society in general.

He asked the commission to commence its war against graft at the grass roots, adding that the commission could work its way to the federal level from there.

“NANS requests urgent investigation and subsequent trial of government officials who have diverted funds meant for public development into self-control funds, thereby increasing the level of poverty and crime in the country,” Imagwe stated.

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Celebrate, We’re Liberated, Fubara Tells IYC …Says Detractors Now Victims Of Their Ploys

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has acknowledged with delight the assurances of brotherly support from the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), and urged Ijaw Nation to key into the on-going celebration of the liberation the State is enjoying now.
Governor Fubara gave the charge while addressing the national and state leadership of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), who were on solidarity walk to Government House in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The solidarity walk was staged as part of activities to celebrate the heroic exploits of the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro, 56 years after his death, which is observed on 16th May every year.
Governor Fubara noted that Major Isaac Adaka Boro genuinely stood for equity, justice, and fair play, and pursued his course to ensure liberation for the Ijaw people and their clans.
The Governor emphasised that every genuine Rivers man is a liberator, adding that he was delighted to receive them on such auspicious day to re-enact the common purpose of liberation that they shared.
Governor Fubara, who thanked the large crowd for their assurances of being available to respond to his call and stand by him, should the need arise, said there would not be any need to cause disruption of the peace, as according to him, the enemies of the State have been defeated already.
He said, “Because he stood for that unique thing, even after his death, we still celebrate him because he was a liberator.
”Every Rivers man, it doesn’t matter whether you are Ijaw or upland, the most important thing is that every genuine Rivers man must be a liberator.
”And I’m happy that you have come here today. I have also received you because we have one common purpose: to liberate our dear State. We are not going back on that.”
Governor Fubara said: “I am happy that you’ve told me this morning that when I call on you, you will respond. But there is nothing to call on you for. Because we have already defeated them.
”By the special grace of God, what they thought that they would have done to us while we were celebrating our one year in office, they are the ones sleeping with their two eyes open. It shows that we have the Ijaw blood. And what is that blood: it is the blood of action; less talk, more action.”
Governor Fubara appealed to Ijaw youths to conduct themselves peacefully as they celebrate the Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day, and also be good ambassadors of the entire Ijaw Nation.
He emphasised that it should be done in the same spirit that had enveloped the State now celebrating victory over his political detractors.
Governor Fubara promised to support the IYC Eastern Zone to have a befitting Secretariat in Rivers State.
In his speech, the National President of IYC, Mr Jonathan Lokpobiri, described the day as historic because Ijaw people were meeting with their Governor on Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day of memorial.
Mr Lokpobiri said it affirms that the gods of Ijaw people are at work, and warned all detractors to retrace their steps, and allow the Governor, who has the full mandate of the people, to discharge his duties to Rivers people.
He commended Governor Fubara for his courage, bravery and commitment to good governance, insisting that his struggle and triumph resonates with the hope of all Ijaw people.
On his part, Chairman of IYC, Eastern Zone, Mr Tamuno Kpokpo, clarified that their visit is not to signify an ethnic war but to lend support in protection of the interest and continuous development of Rivers State.
Mr Kpokpo said IYC will stand to resist anybody or group of persons anywhere who dare to cause any distraction of governance anymore in the State, and appealed that the Governor be allowed to govern the State peacefully.

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Ex-Rivers Lawmakers Have Forfeited Their Seats, PDP Insists …Denies Pressure To Restore Ex-Lawmakers

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has dismissed claims that it was under pressure to compromise its position on the status of former members of the Rivers State Assembly who forfeited their seats on account of their decision to dump the party.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, said this in a statement in Abuja, yesterday.
He declared that nothing will make the party change its position on the vacation of seats by former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ologunagba said, “The Party also clarifies that it is not under pressure from any quarters to compromise its position in Court wherein it had already clearly stated that the former Rivers State lawmakers are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from December 11, 2023, when they publicly announced their defection from the PDP to the APC.
“This clarification is a refusal of a mischievous report in a section of the social media falsely claiming that there are plots to compromise the party’s position and provide an unattainable lifeline to the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to return to their seats which they have constitutionally vacated.
“Our party therefore stands by its position that the affected members have since lost their seats in the Rivers State House of Assembly having arrogantly committed an unpardonable constitutional breach.”
He further stated that, “For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP in its Counter Claim by its National Legal Adviser, Kamaldeen Ajibade SAN in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023 filed at the Federal High Court Abuja stated clearly that the former Rivers State lawmakers “are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from December 11, 2023, when they publicly announced their defection from the PDP to the APC.
“For emphasis, the PDP in the said Suit seeks among others the following Declaration/Orders against the former Rivers State lawmakers.
“A Declaration that by provisions of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the seats of the plaintiffs have been vacant since 11th December 2023 when the plaintiffs announced their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“A Declaration that the plaintiffs are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly having defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on 11th December 2023.
“An Order directing the first defendant (INEC) to conduct bye-elections in the respective constituencies of the plaintiffs in compliance with the provisions of the laws.
“An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the plaintiffs from parading themselves and/or further parading themselves or from performing or further performing the functions and duties of members of Rivers State House of Assembly…”
Ologunagba further said, “Happily, there are plethora of Judicial decisions from the highest court in our country in support of the position taken by our party.”

 

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Don’t Hurt Anybody, Else You Won’t Be Forgiven, Fubara Warns LG Chairmen …As Mbata Flags Off 33.5km Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has warned that any out-going local government chairman in the State who hurts any well-meaning Rivers person will not be forgiven.
The governor pointed to an event that happened on Tuesday, where miscreants attacked some persons who attended the inauguration of the Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road project, on their way home, and said such show of animosity was utterly needless.
Fubara gave the warning at Egbeda community, venue of the ceremony for the official flag-off of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project in Emohua Local Government Area, yesterday.
The governor, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, said, “Let me also say this here. When we left Aleto the other day, some people went there and attacked our people. There is no need for that.
“Nobody has the monopoly of violence. I should even be the one who should come out and shout that I will do this and that. But I don’t need to do that because both sides belong to me. I have taken oath to protect all.
“So, I am advising those people who call themselves local government chairmen: you have a few days in office. Please, conduct yourselves in a peaceful manner.”
Fubara drew the attention of the local government chairmen to the reality of life after office, which should help them to become more circumspect.
He said, “Politics will come, politics will go, but we will still live our lives. Let nobody deceive you, if you deliberately hurt anybody, because of expressing your useless support, nobody will forgive you. You will pay for it.
“So, I’m begging everyone, please, conduct yourselves. As a matter of fact, I am the one that is most hit, and abused as a Governor who doesn’t know what to do with power. Is it not? Have I said anything?
“So, please, just endure until when you finish, then you go your way. I don’t want trouble. I don’t want anything that will bring any problem in this State. I know what they want to do, but we will not give them the opportunity”.
Fubara further said: “We have made our promise to our leader, who happens to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that we will take the path of peace and that is the part we are taking.
“We will continue to take that path. Don’t mind what they say. Don’t mind what they do. Peace remains the path to take. While taking the path of that peace, it does not mean that we won’t defend ourselves, or let me describe it this way: we will not just be like a tree seeing someone coming to cut it down, and won’t do anything. No, no no. We need to also protect ourselves in a lawful manner.”
Commenting on the project, Fubara said that what is being done is to let the world know that his administration means well for Rivers State, and was transparently accounting for every kobo that had been received.
Fubara explained that the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project would be funded with savings from the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), adding that 50 percent of the total cost of N80.8billion has already been paid.
He said, “Why did we pay 50 percent? We understand the fluctuation of prices as a result of exchange rate uncertainties, and we don’t want to find ourself in a situation of too much variation. So, we sought EXCO approval, and EXCO approved that we should pay 50 percent, and we have done that.
“And, what is it that we are saying to the world? We are telling the people that we are transparent. That we are a Government that is ready to serve. We are a Government that thinks about the people first.
“This road is a 33.5kilometer road that has a bridge. It is a road that would connect Ikwerre, Emohua and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas.
“When this road is completed, commercial activities will become very easy, no more wasting of manhour on the road. And that shows that we are thinking about the people, and also caring for the well-being of the people.”
Fubara urged residents of communities in the three LGAs to support the contractor to deliver the project within the stipulated 24 months.
The governor said the contractor had already pledged to ensure the project was completed and ready for inauguration before his third year in office.
He said, “I know strongly, having confirmed the reputation of the contractor, I have no doubt that they will deliver. So, I want to thank everyone of you for your patient, continue to support us, we mean well for our people.
“This is not different from the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr President. Our mission is not different from the mission of Mr President.
“Mr President’s mission is to give hope to our people. And we are here to give hope to the people of Ikwerre, Emohua and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas, genuinely.
“Genuinely, not because we have any economic interest here, not at all. We are doing it as a service to our people. We have started our journey in showcasing our interest, wishes, and what we have done in the past one year.”
Flagging-off the project, Senator John Azuta Mbata, who represented Rivers East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, described the dual carriage road project as the type within the capacity of the Federal Government to award but now being done by Governor Fubara.
He said, “We are, indeed, extremely delighted to have a Governor of your calibre. We salute your leadership on this occasion. We salute your humanity on this occasion. We salute your humility on this occasion.
“We salute your propensity and preference for peace and tranquility. We are very delighted to be associated with your humble self and our very presence here today, I believe, makes the point that we are your supporters.
“We don’t have to talk too much about it. Anybody who is a politician understands that my standing here means I am making a grand political statement.”
Senator Mbata further said: “We are the face of the people that are behind, and we are many, millions of people, Rivers people, chiefs, traditional rulers, elder statesmen, and businessmen. We make the silent majority that are behind, supporting the effort of the Government to emancipate the people and to bring development to Rivers State.
“I want to take the opportunity to call on all and sundry, all our people, wherever you are, to give your utmost support to the Government because for the very first time, Government has moved away from the time when the Governor was seen as a tin god, a time when the Governor demanded worship, so to say; to a time when the Governor has become a symbol, a rallying point for the people.
“A rallying point for accountability of resources of our people. A rallying point for bringing all our people into the same boat. We are in an era where there is massive and extensive consultation going on. This is the order of the day, when nobody’s view is thrown away.”
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Engr. Atemea Briggs, said the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project is a state highway that will be connecting two separate Trunk-A federal roads.
He explained that it will be constructed as a dual carriageway with solar-powered street lights to provide associated benefits of improving the fortunes of the people who will be using the road.
Also speaking, General Manager of the contracting firm handling the project, Craneburg Construction Company, Mr Elie Aden, said the road is a 33.5KM dual carriageway, adding that it will have culverts, street lights and 99 meters long bridge.
He said that about 7KM length of work has already been accomplished, and promised that they will complete the project within agreed deadline.
In his welcome address on behalf of the communities, Chief Charles Bekee, recalled how the road, once reconstructed in 2001, collapsed a decade after, due to increased volume of vehicular traffic that plied the road.
Chief Bekee noted that the road remained deplorable for a long time until Governor Fubara graciously awarded the contract for the reconstruction, leading to the flag-off ceremony.
He assured that the benefiting communities in the three LGAs that the road traverses are already resolved to protect the project with high level of cooperation to give the contractor the impetus to achieve its mandate, adding that they will sustain unalloyed support of the people to the governor.

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