Editor’s note: Four years ago, the investigation of and subsequent trial sitting into the scandalous "Halliburton bribery case” have yielded no results. But it looks like the newly-elected President Muhammadu Buhari is keen to revisit the multi-million US dollars bribery at the highest levels of management case and see those involved tried and penalized properly. Legit.ng guest contributor Hussain Obaro says this is a good start for the Buhari-led administration.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Legit.ng, its editors or other contributors.
— The integrity of the judiciary has come under intense questioning from Nigerians.
— After being elected president, Muhammadu Buhari has issued a directive that an investigative committee completed the investigation into the Halliburton bribery case and charged all those indicted to court without further delay.
— It will be used as a 'litmus test' to measure the sincerity, political will, the resolve and the commitment of this administration to fight corruption, no matter who gets caught.
To say that corruption has eaten deep into every aspect of the Nigerian society is to affirm the obvious. Corruption has not only weakened the moral fiber of Nigeria, but also wreaked havoc in its body polity. Corruption in Nigeria is so devastating and alarming that it has affected every sector of the economy. Consequently, it is obvious that corruption has been a major bane of the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. This can be inferred from the revelations of probe panels that have been set up at different times by different regime.
At the 2015 general elections, Nigerians across the divide, realizing the evils that the hydra-headed monster of corruption had already done to the country, turned out enmass and voted for Muhammadu Buhari, a man considered by many as incorruptible, honest, disciplined, having the right attitude and integrity needed to stem out corruption from the Nigerian polity. In line with the manifesto of the APC, his electioneering campaign promises, and following the commitment to the United States government, President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a directive that a committee made up of representatives of all the security agencies be commenced to complete the investigation into the much-publicized Halliburton bribery case, and to charge all those indicted to court without further delay.
The Halliburton bribery case was a bribe-for-contract scandal which ravaged the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) projects. Billions of dollars of the nation’s money were used, abused and wasted, and this resulted in contract inflation and bribes for the Nigerian leaders who supervised the deals on behalf of Nigeria and Nigerians. Even though the trial conducted in the US resulted in convictions, fines and forfeitures, the US government has been reluctant in helping Nigeria to recover the funds because our government has failed to prosecute the bigwigs behind the bribery regime: an Abuja high court struck out the case against six Nigerians who were arraigned in connection with the bribery scandal that took place between 1994 to 2004.
Looting and collection of bribes has almost become a legitimate endeavour in Nigeria, especially if you are one of the 'big boys' and belong to the ‘looters’ club' or the 'eating-class'. Being a member of the ‘club' provides free access to the treasury, oil and gas, ‘juicy' contracts and lots of opportunities for ripping-off, immunity and freedom from prosecution. It’s the small-time fronts who are usually arraigned and prosecuted by the anti-corruption agencies in the law court, while the ‘big fish' are left alone to enjoy their ransack, live lavishly and cruise in exotic and flashy cars. Even if the 'big criminals' finally get caught and are taken to court for prosecution, corrupt judges use the opportunity as privilege to collect their own 'share'. The integrity of the judiciary has come under intense questioning from Nigerians, as a result of the ways corrupt public officers and officials were virtually given a path in the back through sentences and fines that are far from being commensurate with the millions and billions they looted.
In his February, 2015, interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Muhammadu Buhari " target="_blank" rel="nofollow">asserted: “If Nigeria refuses to kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria". Nigerians are waiting to see how the Halliburton bribery case unfolds. It will be used as a 'litmus test' to measure the sincerity, political will, the resolve and the commitment of this administration to fight corruption, no matter who gets caught.
We hope to see more of the abandoned high-profile cases of corruption revisited by the Buhari administration, not only with the aim of bringing offenders to book and getting them to return their loots, but to serve as deterrent to others who may be willing and planning to dip their hands into the collective resources and wealth of Nigerians, thereby impoverishing this country and giving us a bad image internationally. Change has finally come.
Hussain Obaro, a graduate of university of Ilorin, Kwara state, is a medical anatomist, an author, a motivational speaker and a public affairs commentator.
Your own opinion articles and news/photo reports from your area are welcome at info @naij.com. More details in Legit.ng’s step-by-step guide for guest contributors. Drop us an email at email@example.com telling us what you want to write about and why. Contact us if you have any feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments. We are also available on Facebook and Twitter.