Alarmed by the alleged involvement of four former ministers and several other top government officials in the 10 million Euros bribe collected from German Telecommunication firm, Siemens, the two main anti-graft agencies may commence investigation into the matter.
Ahead of the probe, former communications minister, Tajudeen Olanrewaju and Senator Jubril Aminu both named in the report made public by the Munich State Court which indicted the Nigerian government officials have, however denied their involvement in the deal.
Olanrewaju said he could not have collected bribe from the company since he was not a serving minister or a government official while he was said to have taken 5,000 Euros while Aminu simply said the accusation against him was false.
Notwithstanding their denial, sources said the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Independent corrupt practices and other related offences commission (ICPC) may invite some of the officers named in the scandal for questioning
“The Federal Government is scandalized by the development and in line with our anti-corruption posture will be interested in ensuring that those named prove their innocence or be appropriately punished” our source said.
Olanrewaju’s denial was contained in a statement by his media consultant Ogbeni Goke Odeyinka who said the former minister was presently in United Kingdom for medical check up.
According to Olanrewaju “I was a minister of communications between 1994 and 1997, and the report said I took the bribe on August 8, 2002, that sounds ridiculous as I was out of office five years earlier and was not in government neither was I in a position to award or influence the award of contracts in that ministry.
“If the report said I took bribe of Euros 5,000 in 2002 and I was not a serving minister, such is libelous, wicked and damaging and was intended to ruin my good reputation as a prominent Lagosian and a distinguished Nigerian.
“As a good citizen, who commands the respect of every Lagosians, I recorded chains of successes while I served my fatherland as Communications Minister between 1994-1997, which includes; liberation of the telecommunications sector by granting operational licenses to Multilinks, Intercellular, EMIS, Mobitel and Starcoms amongst others” Olanrewaju stated.
Aminu told newsmen in Abuja when asked about his involvement in the scandal that “It is false.”
Before the disclosure of the names of those involved in the scandal, there had been calls by human rights groups for a probe to establish those who allegedly collected the 10million euros from Siemens officials.
Three of the former ministers served in the administration of former President
Olusegun Obasanjo while the other minister served in the infamous regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
Several top government officials in both regimes including a serving Senator and ministry officials were also listed as benefiting from hundreds of millions of Naira in bribes.
Siemens was said to have given bribes totaling about £ 8.6 billion (12 million euros) to willing officials in Nigeria, Libya and Russia. The Nigerian officials alone got 10 million euros over time.
A total of 77 bribes were paid out by the firm as it sought to win lucrative contracts for telecoms equipment.
On October 4 this year, the Munich State Court, while ruling on a bribery case against Siemens, named the participants.
A court spokesman said the information was garnered from statements volunteered by key witnesses as well as Siemens documents.
The statements and documents were “carefully fact-checked” before the court ruled against Siemens which faces a ban on public sector contracts for the misdemeanour, the spokesman added.
Documents obtained by The Nation showed that two Siemens officials, simply identified as Seidel and Gilbert, paid a bribe of 500,000 euros to a minister in the Obasanjo administration sometime after 2002.
Seidel paid the same minister a further 70,000 euros on May 25, 2004, making a total of 570,000 euros.
It was indeed a bazaar as another minister in the administration was paid a total of 700,000 euros, 150,000 euros on August 28,2003 and 550,000 euros earlier on 8 July, 2002, by the same Seidel.
The third minister initially received 200,000 euros on June 12, 2002, and barely 10 months later precisely on April 30, 2003, Siemens gave the beneficiary another 200,000 euros. The firm later made to the minister a “Christmas payment” of 50,000 euros on November 10, 2003.
The documents show that the former minister in the Abacha regime took 5000 euros on 8 August, 2002.
A series of other payments were also made to the ministers and top managers of a particular parastatal which has been ailing.
The records indicate that a particular Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator “and others” received 185,000 euros.
The Munich court focused on bribes between 2001 and 2004 connected to Reinhard Siekaczek, a Siemens employee who was a manager in the telecommunications equipment unit.
– The Nation