An anti-corruption coalition, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, has commended the Federal Government for re-opening the botched Halliburton scandal, stating that the decision of the government to reinstitute the scandal has raised the standard of the government’s anti-graft war.
In a statement issued and signed by the coalition’s Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe some Senior Advocates of Nigeria for betraying the country through the collection of “professional fees” paid to them by Halliburton.
Speaking on the shoddy handling of the Halliburton case by previous lawyers engaged by the Federal Government, the coalition recounted that the engagement of one of the lawyers for the Halliburton case was illegal since his professional incompetence has been ruled upon by a court of competent jurisdiction.
According to the CSNAC, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos and presided over by Justice Clement Archibong, had while dismissing the case the government brought against Erastus Akingbola, former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, over money laundering in the sum of N10 billion, accused the prosecutors, led by Joseph Daudu (SAN), of professional incompetence in the negligent manner in which they had handled the case.
The judge, therefore, in the ruling, prohibited the the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), from ever engaging the four lawyers to prosecute any other case for the Federal Government.
CSNAC said in a statement on Monday: “For daring to indict the SANs, a plot was hurriedly hatched which led to the premature retirement of the judge by the NJC. Daudu was then a member of the National Judicial Council.
“Notwithstanding the retirement of the trial judge, the order prohibiting Mr. Daudu (SAN) and others from prosecuting for the Federal Government has not been vacated or quashed by the Court of Appeal or any other appellate court.
“Hence, at the time the case of Halliburton was assigned by the Attorney-General, Mr. Adoke (SAN), to Mr. Daudu (SAN) to prosecute, it was illegal as it was a flagrant disobedience of the order of the Federal High Court.
“A few Nigerians were charged before the Federal High Court for receiving bribes from Halliburton. The professional incompetence displayed by the prosecutors in the Akingbola case was repeated in the Halliburton case. After one year of several adjournments at the instance of the prosecutor, the trial court became frustrated. As the prosecutor failed to produce any single witness, the judge was compelled to strike out the Halliburton case due to ‘lack of diligent prosecution’ by Daudu.
“After messing up the case of Halliburton, Mr. Daudu turned round to collect his exorbitant ‘professional fees’ from Halliburton with the connivance of the then Attorney-General, Mr. Adoke. The implication of the money paid to Mr. Daudu is that he deliberately allowed the case to be dismissed to the detriment of the federal government which had engaged his services.
“Therefore, he betrayed the nation for his heavy payment received from Halliburton. It is only in Nigeria where a senior lawyer and a former president of the national association of lawyers can collude with the Attorney-General to trade off his professional integrity and loyalty to his country in order to collect ‘fees’ from a foreign firm to be prosecuted by him for committing serious allegations of corruption.
“Like Daudu SAN, who was engaged illegally by Adoke SAN, what services did Damien Dodo SAN and Obla SAN render to qualify them to share in the “professional fees” paid by Halliburton, Siemens, Julius Berger and others?”
While commending the government’s recent move on the issue, the Coalition said: “All the criminal suspects should be prosecuted while the lawyers should account for the “professional fees” paid to them by Halliburton, for betraying their fatherland.
“Since Daudu SAN is the chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of Nigerian lawyers, it is certain he will not be subjected to discipline by the Nigerian Bar Association. The EFCC should therefore proceed to prosecute the senior advocates involved in the Halliburton scandal like their colleague, Mr. Rickey Tarfa SAN.”