Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami is said to be delaying request by Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) on whether to continue relationship with a Swiss firm convicted for spending $20m in bribing NPA officials.
Recall that Dredging International (Cyprus), a Swiss firm was indicted, charged and convicted for giving a $20m bribe to NPA officials for certain approvals during the period of the last contract.
During the trial in Switzerland, the firm argued that it gave out the bribe because that is the only way it can get approval from the NPA.
Though the indicted officials of the NPA had gone to court to challenge their involvement, in a recent media chat, the managing director of the NPA, Hadiza Usman revealed that the affected NPA staff had been placed on suspension pending the end of the substantive suit.
According to her, checks by her on the said approvals for which the bribe was given showed that there were real delays within the period of the approval which goes to show that something like waiting for the bribe may have been responsible for the long delay noticed in the memo concerned.
At that briefing, she averred that just as NPA was guided by AGF’s advise in suspending the contract of Intels Nigeria Limited in pilotage, NPA would equally be guided on whatever Malami advises on the be in the Dredging International issue.
Trouble had started at the verge of renewing the contract with the Swiss firm when it was discovered that the same company had been indicted for international bribery in Nigeria at NPA.
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Meanwhile, activists and civil groups including the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has joined in the campaign against the renewal of the contract and immediate prosecution of all named officials of the federal agency in the scandal.
The group further warned the AGF not to give any contrary advice to NPA that will amount to tarnishing the nation’s already battered image on corruption prevalence.
A statement by CSNAC Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, questioned the rationale behind the legal advice when the company had already been convicted in Switzerland since 2012.
CSNAC recalled that “Nigeria sanctioned Halliburton and Siemens in the past for their roles in bribery cases and prevented them from participating in contract implementation. It is curious how the NPA is framing excuses for purported involvement of the indicted company in the bidding process for the new dredging contract”.
According to the rights group, “The action runs contrary to the anti-corruption mantra of this government and is capable of sending a wrong signal of endorsing bribery to the international community.”