An anti-corruption coalition, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), issued a statement, signed by the coalition’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, urging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to probe several Senior Advocates for collecting "professional fees" paid to them by Halliburton.
This action, according to Mr. Suraju, constituted a betrayal of Nigeria by these Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
The coalition was highly critical of the poor handling of the Halliburton case by the Federal Government’s lawyers. The group noted that one of these lawyers, Joseph Daudu, could no longer be engaged in the prosecution of the case because he was deemed professionally incompetent by a previous court ruling.
According to the CSNAC, the Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice Clement Archibong, dismissed the case the government brought against Erastus Akingbola, a former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc for the laundering of N10 billion. The case’s dismissal was due to the professional negligence of the prosecution’s counsel led by Mr. Daudu.
Justice Archibong prohibited the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke SAN, from ever engaging Mr. Daudu to prosecute any other case for the Federal Government.
According to the group, Justice Archibong was forced into premature retirement for this ruling by the National Judicial Council (NJC) of which Mr. Daudu is a member.
Despite these efforts, Justice Archibong’s ruling has yet to be reversed by any other court. Therefore, CSNAC argues, the appointment of Mr. Daudu to prosecute the Halliburton case was illegal and in disobedience of a ruling by the Federal High Court.
“[Only] a few Nigerians were charged before the federal high court for receiving bribes from Halliburton.
“The professional incompetence displayed by the prosecutors in the Akingbola case was repeated in the Halliburton case. After one year of several adjournments at the instance of the prosecutor, the trial court became frustrated.
“Because the prosecutor failed to produce a single witness, the judge was compelled to strike out the Halliburton case due to ‘lack of diligent prosecution’ by Mr. Daudu,” the group stated.
After this failure, according to CSNAC, Mr. Daudu proceeded to collect lavish “professional fees” from Halliburton. These payments were made with the help of Attorney General Adoke.
The payout was believed to be in exchange for Mr. Daudu purposefully sinking the case.
“Therefore, he [Mr. Daudu] betrayed the nation for this payment from Halliburton.
“It is only in Nigeria that a senior lawyer and a former president of the national association of lawyers can collude with the Attorney-General to bargain away their professional integrity and loyalty to their country in exchange for ‘fees’ from a foreign firm they are supposed to be prosecuting,” the group said.
According to CSNAC, two other lawyers also received payouts from Halliburton, Siemens, and Julius Berge including Attorney-General Adoke and Damien Dodo.
The coalition called for the prosecution of the above-mentioned SANs for accepting payments from Halliburton.
“Because Mr. Daudu is the chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of Nigerian lawyers, it is certain that he will not be subjected to discipline by the Nigerian Bar Association.
“Therefore, the EFCC should proceed to prosecute the senior advocates involved in the Halliburton scandal like their colleague, Mr. Rickey Tarfa SAN,” the group stated.