Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Muhammed Adoke Monday told the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters that out of $180 million celebrated Halliburton scandal only $21 million was remitted to Nigerian government officials including Special Advisers to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and an aide of former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar.
He also told the lawmakers during the 2011 budget defence session by the Federal Ministry of Justice that none of the big names being bandied about in the media was linked with the Halliburton scandal.
Members of the Senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters headed by Senator Dahiru Umaru expressed concerns over the utilization of multi-billion naira revenue generated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries without the approval of the National Assembly.
One of the Committee members, Senator Ikechukwu Obiora, who is also the chairman, Ad-hoc committee on sale of Federal Government houses called for public hearing on the scandal with a view to ascertaining the true position.
He noted, "the special assistant to (former) President Olusegun Obasanjo was paid money in order to influence the award of this contract", asking, "Was the contract a continuous one? So the successive governments were just taking part of w
hat belong to them?Was the money paid to Obasanjo's aide meant for the aide personally or was it meant for the former president?"
While responding to questions on the investigation, Adoke disclosed that out of the sum of $180 million involved in the bribery scandal, the sum of $21 million was given to government officials spanning the regimes of the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.
The minister said, "The Halliburton scandal is beyond the regime of former President Obasanjo, it started from the time of Abacha, even officials of the government of General Abacha had collected money, the officials of the government of General Abdulsalam have collected
money, it was a continuous process..."Adoke noted that "the contract was already in existence" adding that some of the officials of government were directly involved in thenbribery scandal. On whether former President Obasanjo partook in the bribe, Adoke said "the aide said he collected it and he admitted that it was not for the former President. He emphatically said that Obasanjo never knew about it."
He however noted that none of the big names mentioned by the media were linked with the Halliburton scandal, noting that "they gave this money to influence the award of LNG contract in Nigeria. Like I said $180 million as report was by the London lawyer acting as the
consultant hired by Halliburton..."Adoke however disclosed that the sum of $1 billion has so far been repatriated from the looted funds by Abacha, just as he expressed readiness to provide copies of the update report on the $180 millionbribery scandal to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for perusal.
The AGF added that Obasanjo had agreement with Tesler (Halliburton's lawyer) to repatriate 50 percent of the money recovered on behalf of the Federal Government "but I don't know why the money has not been repatriated to Nigeria" since then. After the response, Obiora urged the committee "to conduct full fledged public hearing so thast we can really go into the bribery scandal."