Lagos — FORMER Communications Ministers, serving Senator and eight other government officials cited in the Siemens bribe scandal have been invited for questioning by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
President Umaru Yar'Adua had, on Sunday, directed relevant agencies to get to the roots of the allegation. The Senate and the House of Representatives are also launching separate investigations into the matter.
Senator Jubril Aminu, one of those alleged to have received money from Siemens, said yesterday he had commenced private investigation on the issue, while the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute anyone implicated in the Wilbros and Siemens scandals.
Chief Cornelius Adebayo, reacting for the first time denied receiving bribe from anyone while in office.
A Munich court had named four former Nigerian Communications Ministers- Cornelius Adebayo, the late Haruna Elewi, Tajudeen Olanrewaju and Bello Mohammed- as well as other officials of the ministry and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Professor Jubril Aminu, as having received about 10 million euros in bribe at different times from the telecommunications firm.
Prof. Aminu, Dr. Muhammed and General Olanrewaju had earlier denied their involvement in the scandal.
However, the ICPC in a statement yesterday by its Resident Consultant on Media/Event, Mr. Folu Olamiti said the commission had "commenced investigation into the Siemens bribery scandal involving some prominent Nigerians. Invitation letters have been sent to prominent Nigerians whose names have been mentioned in the allegation.
"In the invitation letter, the affected Nigerians were advised to report in person at the office of the ICPC chairman to assist the commission in its investigation.
"ICPC's invitation letter to the affected prominent Nigerians will assist the commission to unravel the involvement or otherwise of the Nigerians mentioned in the alleged bribery scandal."
Senate, Reps begin probe
The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Communications also launched separate investigations into the Siemens bribe scandal.
The Chairman, House Committee on Communications, Mr. Jerry Manwe (Taraba PDP), told newsmen yesterday, that the National Assembly was interested in the case and had already concluded arrangements to initiate a thorough probe.
His words: "The issue is that the constitution allows us to invite any serving public official to come and answer questions, more so when a serving Senator and former ministers (during President Olusegun Obasanjo' tenure) are involved. Look, there might be no end to this investigation because Nigerians are involved in it.
"Ours is to ensure that the proper thing is done. We must get to the bottom of this thing, and in doing so we may also invite Siemens, but ours is not to harass businessmen out of this country. All we want is for them to be responsible in their business transaction.
"It calls for concern from all Nigerians if such a monumental thing happened. So we feel we should react to it so that if anybody comes to Nigeria to do business, he would be careful.
The committee may invite those who are involved and if it concerns the company itself, it would be blacklisted, because it takes two to tango.
If it is true that Siemens bribed public officers, then they are not fit to do business in Nigeria, because this is a government that has vowed to follow the rule of law. The President of this country is serious about fighting corruption, so he too would take up this matter," he said.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Communications, Mr. Sylvester Anyanwu (Imo PDP), also said his committee had already contacted the Ministry of Communications for briefing.
NBA calls for probe
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation/Justice Minister, Chief Michael Aondoakaa asked the AG and EFCC to prosecute those implicated in the Wilbros and Siemens scandals.
The association also commended the EFCC on its work in investigating and prosecuting corrupt politicians and others, but added that it would like to see the prosecution of corrupt public officers pursued more aggressively and in a more transparent manner.
NBA also said it had set up a team of senior lawyers to assist in prosecution, legislative drafting, training in anti-corruption and money laundering and systems analysis and policy review.
The NBA in the letter signed by its President, Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said: "The EFCC has done a lot of work in investigating and prosecuting corrupt politicians and others. But a lot more remains to be done. We would like to see the prosecution of corrupt public officers pursued more aggressively and in a more transparent manner.
"Similarly, all those implicated in the Wilbros, Siemens and other recent and current scandals should be quickly, efficiently and aggressively dealt with.
"The NBA National Executive Council after a meeting recently in Maiduguri, resolved that the NBA should declare total war on corruption. We believe that corruption is the basis of Nigeria's underdevelopment.
"The United Nations put Nigeria's documented loss to corruption from 1960 to 1999 at $400 billion.
This minimum estimate represents Nigerian looted funds stored in foreign banks, and does not include large amounts misappropriated or laundered without resort to foreign banks.
"We are happy to note the President's re-stated policy of zero tolerance on corruption and agree with Mr. President, but believe that to attain the goal which he has set for the nation, there is a need to revamp Nigeria's entire anti-corruption strategy, especially in the light of the scope of endemic corruption plaguing our nation.
"The scope and depth of work required to make a significant impact in the war against corruption are beyond the nation's legal and administrative structures as presently constituted. There is, therefore, a need for total overhaul of the anti-corruption strategies and structures. Any meaningful war against corruption must be fought on three fronts: investigation, prosecution, and assets recovery.
"The NBA recommends the domestication of the United Nations Convention on Corruption. This is the model legislative framework on corruption and contains international best practices. Similarly, Nigeria should adopt the United Nations' manual on anti-corruption policy.
This manual shows the interlocking administrative arrangement among relevant agencies in a way that should benefit Nigeria in her multi-agency attack on corruption.
"The NBA has set up a team of senior lawyers to assist in prosecution, legislative drafting, training in anti-corruption and money laundering, and systems analysis and policy review," he said.
Aminu probes bribery allegation
Meanwhile, Senator Jubril Aminu (PDP-Adamawa), said yesterday he had commenced private investigations into the issue. Aminu said he knew nothing about the allegation.
Aminu expressed surprise that he could be linked to such scandal, saying he had never had anything to do with communications.
He said since the alleged bribery was said to be between 2001 and 2004, he could not have had anything to do with it since he was out of the country as an Ambassador.
The senator said when he returned to Nigeria, he was busy with his campaign as he was running for the first time to become a senator.
"I am surprised and I will like to get more facts about it before taking any further action," he said.
I took no bribe - Adebayo
Denying his alleged involvement in the Siemens bribe saga, Chief Cornelius Adebayo said: "While the fact remains that I was Minister of Communications between July 2003 and August 2006, I wish to state very clearly that I never demanded, neither did I receive, bribe from officials of Siemens or of any other company in the discharge of my responsibilities.
"I have had an unblemished career in the public service spanning almost four decades. I have a reputation for integrity and I am under no political pressure so I fail to understand what temptation remained that I could not overcome well after age 60.
"It is gratifying that President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has directed the security agencies to get to the root of this matter and I am confident that when that process is completed, this unjustified and unjustifiable stain will be removed from my hard-earned name," he said.
Siemen Bribery Scandal: The Suspects
In order of Name, Title, Amount, Source and Date
1) Cornelius Adebayo, Minister of Telecommunication, 500,000.00 euros, Seidel/Gilbert, Unknown time after 2002
2) Cornelius Adebayo Minister of Telecommunication 70,000.00 euros Seidel 22.05.2004
3) Mohamed Project Manager NITEL 70,000.00 euros Seidel Shortly after 03.09.2004
4) David Osakwe Oyegun State Secretary, Communication Ministry 50,000.00 euros Seidel Shortly after 10.07.2004
5) David Osakwe Oyegun State Secretary, Communication Ministry 20,000.00 euros Seidel 18.02.2004
6) David Osakwe Oyegun State Secretary, Communication Ministry 20,000.00 euros Seidel 02.12.2003
7) Dr. Bello Mohammed Minister of Telecommunication 150,000.00 euros Seidel 25.08.2003
8) Dr. Bello Mohammed Minister of Telecommunication 550,000.00 euros Seidel/Apexpost 08.07.2002
9) Samsun Olabiyi Legal Advisor of NITEL 50,000.00 euros Seidel 18.06.2002
10) Samsun Olabiyi Legal Advisor of NITEL 50,000.00 euros Seidel 02.04.2003
11) Dr. Mamza State Secretary in Nigeria Telecom. Min 10,000.00 euros Seidel 15.10.2003
12) R. Olusanju Secretary in Tender Board of NITEL 130,000.00 euros Seidel 25.08.2003
13) Haruna Elewi Minister for Telecommunication 200,000.00 euros Seidel 30.04.2003
14) Haruna Elewi Minister for Telecommunication 200,000.00 euros Seidel 12.08.2002
15) Tajudeen Olanrewaju Telecommunication Minister 5,000.00 euros Seidel 08.08.2002
16) Chuka Nwizu Head of Immigration 20,000.00 euros Seidel 13.05.2004
17) Aliyu Datti Legal Advisor NITEL 15,000.00 euros Seidel 18.03.2004
18) Several decision makers Telecom and Ministry Officials 1,000,000.00 euros Seidel/J.E. Douglas Steradian Co 17.01.2002
19) Several decision makers Telecom and Ministry Officials 500,000.00 euros Seidel/J.E. Douglas Steradian Co 22.01.2002
20) Several decision makers Telecom and Ministry Officials 2,250,000.00 euros Seidel Unknown time after Nov. 29, 2001
21) Several decision makers Political Office Holders 350,000.00 euros Seidel/C. Woemann 23.06.2003
22) Several decision makers Political Office Holders 750,000.00 euros Seidel/C. Woemann 23.06.2003
23) Several decision makers Political Office Holders 620,000.00 euros Seidel/C. Woemann 25.08.2003
24) Several decision makers Political Office Holders 380,000.00 euros Seidel/C. Woemann 23.08.2003
25) Several decision makers Political Office Holders 1,064,000.00 euros Seidel/C. Woemann Unknown time after Nov. 29, 2001
26) Alhaji Haruna Elewi Minister for Telecommunication 50,000.00 euros Seidel 10.11.2003
27) Jubril Aminu and others Senator of governing party 185,000.00 euros Seidel 11.04.2003