NLC, TUC Want ex-NPA Officials Prosecuted for $20M Bribe in Dredging Scandal

Article Image

Posted September 7, 2017

The Nigerian Labour Congress and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress have united in the condemnation of the Federal Government’s attitude in handling international corruption cases where top Nigerians have been indicted.

The two unions frowned on the Federal Government’s treatment of the recent $20m bribery scandal case involving some former top executive officers of the Nigerian Ports Authority and Dredging International Services (Cyprus).

They urged the Federal Government not to sweep the alleged scandal under the carpet if it was serious about its anti-corruption war.

Also, the President of the NPA branch of Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations, Benson Adegbeyeni, said on Monday that the association would address the media on the bribery scandal on Thursday.

“I want to investigate and get the facts first before addressing the media on Thursday,” he told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Monday.

But the NLC Secretary General Peter Ozo-Esan, recalled that there were several of such criminal cases where Nigerians had been implicated, adding that where “the cases were prosecuted with dispatch abroad, nothing will happen at the Nigerian end.”

He noted that if Nigeria was serious about the fight against corruption, it would establish a relationship with these countries to prosecute such cases.

He said, “Not being able to do that means that our fight against corruption is weak. The same scenario played out in the Halliburton case.

“It is a case of commitment. If we are ready to win the battle against corruption, then these cases which have been clearly treated outside Nigeria must be pursued and brought to a conclusion here. That is what will give Nigerians confidence in the fight against corruption.”

Also reacting, the President, TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, observed that the problem lay with Nigeria’s judicial system.

He said, “Our judicial system needs to change. Nigeria’s prosecuting authorities need to put the country above personal interest because there is a lot of protection of personal interest going on.

“The government’s prosecution team also has to be a crack team, full of lawyers who are knowledgeable.

“Above all, government needs to establish a special tribunal to try such cases, just like we have the special election tribunals. The election tribunals operate within a time frame which can also be applied to such criminal cases.”

Dredging International Services was reportedly indicted in Switzerland and had been fined one million Swiss Francs and asked to refund 36 million Swiss Francs illegal profit for allegedly making illicit payments to former top officers of the NPA.

Nothing has however been heard of the case in Nigeria and the alleged receivers of the bribe have not been prosecuted.

In an indictment dated May 1, 2017, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPC) said between 2006 and 2011, Dredging International Services allegedly wired huge bribes to the companies in which a former NPA top officer and his colleagues were beneficial owners.

According to the document issued by Federal Prosecutor Alice de Chambrier, Dredging International, through its agent, transferred more than $18m to nine offshore companies whose real beneficial owners are yet unclear.

Switzerland had said it sought assistance from Nigeria and that the then Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, replied that there was no case for criminal prosecution.

Sources at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had also confirmed that the anti-graft agency received a request from Switzerland on the matter.

Attempt to know whether the EFCC had dumped the case or not was futile as the spokesman for the anti-graft agency, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached on the telephone as he did not respond to telephone calls on Monday.

Source: Punch