The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has begun a fresh probe into the $180 million Halliburton bribe scandal.
The anti-corruption agency is said to have questioned several well connected and highly placed persons who had benefitted from the fraud.
Among those currently being probed are two former Heads of state, Five Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), including senior lawyer, Damian D. Dodo, who was interrogated for eight straight hours by the EFCC on Thursday, a deceased Emir and his son, and a former minister.
It was reported that an estimated $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 of the $180 million was shared as inducement to several top official in the administration of Late Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and President Olusegun Obasanjo
A source, who spoke to Punch Newspapers, stated that: “The EFCC is revisiting the $180million Halliburton scandal based on fresh evidence. In fact, the list of the beneficiaries of the bribe is already with the commission.
“A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Damian Dodo, was quizzed for eight hours Thursday, February 11 by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the Commission stepped up investigations into the controversial Halliburton scam.
“The SAN was questioned for his role in the alleged $26 million bribery allegation against a former minister and five other Senior Advocates.
“Specifically, Dodo allegedly received $4.5million through his firm, DD Dodo and Co. from multinational companies involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal under the cover of legal fees.
“He was also alleged to have withdrawn over $2million cash for purposes that are unclear, in flagrant violation of extant money laundering regulations.”
Another source was reported to have said that: “Out of about $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 bribes shared to top government officials in Nigeria, about N25billion fines were paid by some companies. Some suspects, who were neck-deep in the scam, got presidential reprieve which compelled the leadership of the anti-graft agency to overlook their infractions.”
“No matter how big the suspects are, we will recover the bribe cash. We have the list of the beneficiaries of the bribe sum. At a point, the US Government found about $133, 073,750m which was found in the account of Jeffery Tesler who was the facilitator of the bribery.”
“Upon this discovery, the Federal Government proposed a 50-50 sharing formula of the funds. We want to know what has become of this arrangement. Certainly, there are many pegs to the Halliburton scandal. We are also a subject of ridicule in the international community that none of the suspects has been successfully prosecuted and jailed.”
On his own part, the arrested senior advocate, Damain Dodo, who is accused of receiving $4.5 million as legal fees, said that the EFCC was part of the plea bargain negotiation which involved five companies: Julius Berger, Siemens, Halliburton, Japan oil and Gas Corporation, Snmaprogetti.
Dodo is also accused of illegally withdrawing more $2 million case, for unclear reasons, which according to the anti0graft agency, is a violation of Nigerians money laudering laws.
Dodo says that he was not the only one in the team who received legal fees from the multinationals and that they recovered about $20 million which they returned to the Nigerian coffers
He said: “The team was not Damian Dodo alone, it was a team of five SANs and the EFCC was involved from the beginning to the end. The former EFCC Secretary, Emmanuel Akomaye witnessed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government.
“The team comprised a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), J. B. Daudu (SAN); Godwin Obla (SAN); E.C. Ukala (SAN); and Roland Ewubare.
“About $200million was recovered for the Federal Government from the initiative and professional efforts of the legal team and it was paid to the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The legal fees were paid to the legal team by the companies in accordance with the agreement and as authorised by the Federal Government.
“We did nothing untoward because both the money payable to the Federal Government and the lawyers were contained in the agreement.
“We recovered $200million at a time there was no legal framework for doing so. It was our creativity and ingenuity that helped to bring $200m into the coffers of the government of Nigeria.
“Ordinarily, we should have been paid 10 per cent of what we recovered but we were paid less than that. So, anyone who says the agreement was a scam is ignorant of the facts.”
The attorney general of the federation, according to Vanguard, stated that President Buhari is not afraid of pursuing the Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandals because some of the suspects were top officials of the military.
He further stated that the administration was ready to pursue the case to the end and confront the beneficiaries of the scam which have led to arrest, prosecution and jailing of several people on the USA, Germany and other jails.