EFCC grills former Justice Minister over Halliburton scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has continued to dig up the controversies surrounding the $200 million Halliburton scandal and the location of parts of the fine has been discovered by the agency and has again detained and grilled a former minister for Justice over the scandal.

The Halliburton scandal has seriously embarrassed Nigeria and currently, five top lawyers have been questioned

For about six hours on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detained and questioned a former minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mike Aondoakaa.

The former minister who served under late Umar Yar’Adua, a former president who died in office, was reportedly grilled following the current probe into the alleged $200 million fines paid by Halliburton and four other firms.

The EFCC is believed to have detained him afterwards as the grilling is expected to continue.

The EFCC is currently searching for the whereabouts of the alleged bribe that has torn the country apart and had been linked to many high -profile Nigerians.

 With Aondoakaa’s invitation, The Nation reports that the number of Senior Advocates of Nigeria being probed by the EFCC over the issue has increased to five. Top lawyers who have been interrogated over the issue, according to the report, include former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), JB Daudu, Mr. EC Ukala, Chief Godwin Obla, DD Dodo.

The other person who is not a lawyer but has also being interrogated is Roland Ewubare, a top shot of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Aondoakaa reportedly revealed that the Halliburton scandal was brought to the notice of the late Umaru Yar’Adua during a trip to the United States for the UN General Assembly in September 2007.

“The ex-AGF admitted that he signed an agreement with the law firm of Madison Avenue Legal Resources (LLD) on September 24, 2007 relating to the Halliburton matter. “Also, Andoakaa told investigators that Ewubare was chosen to be involved in the Halliburton agreement team because his curriculum vitae and exposure fitted the kind of solicitor we needed.

“He said he mandated Madison to prosecute among other related legal and professional handling of the case or to compromise and settle the claims or causes of action in any manner it deems fit. “But he made it clear that during his tenure, he did “not receive directive to compromise or settle the matter on any terms,” the report quoted an EFCC source as saying.

According to the report, the breakdown of the alleged bribe includes: Julius Berger ($35 million); Siemens (Euros 30 million); Snamprogetti ($30 million); Halliburton Energy Services ($32,500,000); Japan Gasoline Corporation ($26, 500,000).

The report said while the EFCC had successfully discovered a private account where $32.5 million (N13, 585,000,000) $200 million fines from Halliburton Energy Services was lodged, it is yet to find out the whereabouts of the N13.5 billion. It was also learnt that Ewubare claimed that $20 million out of the $32.5 million had been remitted to the federal government but the anti-graft agency is yet to locate the account. “We have gone far in our investigation of the Halliburton scam.

This is why we have invited Aondoaaka, who played a part in it. “The ex-AGF has made useful statement in the last six hours. We may likely detain him to enable him give us a comprehensive brief.

“The interrogation team has asked the ex-AGF to explain how Ewubare, one of the lawyers involved in the Settlement Agreement with Halliburton, got a letter of authority to open an Escrow Account in personal name for the payment of the fines,” the report quoted a source as saying.