So the breaking news today is that the EFCC is expected to announce charges against former US vice-president Dick Cheney in relation to the Halliburton case in Nigeria (see the link below for the story). The investigation into the matter has dragged on so long that I, and many others i’m sure, assumed it was dead and buried. So i was very surprised to see this.
My immediate reactions:
* It’s great to see this case being pursued to the end. Unfortunately, Nigeria does not have a good track record when it comes to following up issues to do with corruption (see the farce surrounding James Ibori for example) so i’m happy that something seems to be coming out of this investigation.
* However, I hope charging Dick Cheney is not some kind of gimmick that will leave the EFCC looking ridiculous. Obviously, naming such a high-profile person in this case will draw a lot of international attention but i really hope it’s for the right reasons. The EFCC would look so foolish if Mr Cheney turns out to have only a minimal connection to the bribery Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR is accused of engaging in.
* As we’re approaching election season, i hope the charges on the Nigerian side of things don’t turn political. I will not be surprised to see accused persons claiming to be the victims of a smear campaign intended to hurt their chances at the polls. We all know that in Nigeria no one is ever actually responsible for any wrong doing. It is always the work of supposed enemies.
For now, i’ve got my fingers crossed. I’m still waiting to see which Nigerian officials get charged. This story which i thought was done has suddenly sprung back to life.
Update: It was announced last week that a deal had been reached between EFCC and Halliburton in which the charges against Dick Cheney would be dropped in exchange for an out-of-court settlement. Apparently, his health condition and the strain of a trial were factors considered in choosing to make a deal of this kind. Again, I had a mixed reaction to this news. Deals like this are not unusual in anyway and can even be good in that they save the EFCC a lot in terms of the costs and logistics of pursuing a prosecution especially one involving such a high profile personality. The security costs alone if Cheney were to be tried in Nigeria would have been enormous. So on one hand,this could be a more efficient way of resolving the issue. The problem as always is the question of what will be done with the money paid in fines. As of now, the details of how the payment will be made and to whom are not yet completely public and this understandably has people concerned, because of the potential for corruption in handling the funds. Also, if the case had been added to the public record, it could have made a good example for dealing with other cases of corruption in the future but as it is, that is not going to happen now.
Original story – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11902489
Dropping of charges – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12018900