President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the re-opening of the widely publicized Halliburton bribery case following a request by the United States government.
A security source told Saturday Tribune that the U.S. government had threatened that unless those culpable in the case were brought to book, about $140 million of the bribery recovered and still in the coffers of the US government, won’t be repatriated to Nigeria.
The source said that “following this development, President Buhari has directed the investigation committee made up of representatives of all security agencies to dust off the file and complete the investigations and charge those indicted to court”.
The case was investigated four years ago by a security panel headed by retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ahmadu Ali, who charged a former personal aide to a former president to court at the end of the case but the case was later thrown out by the court due to lack of diligent prosecution.
One of the culprits in the case, American citizen, Jeffry Tesler, who was the middle-man in the payment of the bribes paid to secure the contract for the final phase of the National Liquefied Natural Gas project was sentenced to 21 months in prison and forfeited $148.964 million from his Swiss accounts to the United States government. Tesler has however served out his prison sentence.
A report on the Halliburton bribery scandal by the US government had indicted three former Nigerian leaders, a former vice president, a minister, some intelligence chiefs and a few corporate entities as beneficiaries of the bribes.
One of the companies later opted for plea bargaining and paid the sum of $25 million to the government.
The security source said further, “the case file would soon be reopened and all those who were invited during the investigation will soon appear again.”
“My brother, this is a serious case now because the government of the day is very eager to prosecute anybody indicted in it so as to serve as a deterrent to others”, the source added.
Just last week, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers made Halliburton to stop its operations in Nigeria because of its decision to sack local employees.