Nigerian allegations of corruption, against Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney

We’re always hearing about the corruption of African governments, especially so when it comes to Nigeria.

Now, the Nigerians are pointing their collective finger back at us — or, well, at former Vice President Dick Cheney anyway.

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency has filed bribery charges against Cheney and nine others claiming that while he was CEO of Haliburton he and others spent $180 million bribing Nigerian officials in order to win some gas contracts for Haliburton’s affiliate KBR in the southern part of this oil-rich African nation.

U.S. officials have investigated the allegations and judged them without merit. Cheney has denied the charges. Still, as the Times of India reports, a number of Nigerians as well as some Haliburton employees were arrested on these charges and documents have been seized. And then there’s this tidbit:

KBR and Halliburton had agreed to pay a $579 million settlement after a guilty plea last year over the charges which said $180 million was paid in bribes to Nigerian officials to secure a contract worth $6 billion between 1994 and 2004 at the Bonny Island Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.

I’ve been to Nigeria a few times on various reporting jaunts. I love those folks. They are smart, fun and very innovative people. Some of Africa’s best music and literature. Nigeria, for many, represents the heart and soul of Africa.

But Nigerians are also widely known (both here and in Africa) for their scams, from those emails asking you to help them get a million dollars out of some bank account to wealthy government officials stashing money in a Swiss bank. I’ve paid a few bribes myself — they call them “dashes” there — just to get my passport stamped or luggage back from baggage handlers at the Lagos airport.

So I suspect many will either dismiss these allegations as probably just some kind of political game, or a case of the pot calling the kettle black here. Or, you could also say it takes one to know one.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org, follow him on Twitter @tompaulson and/or send a comment below.