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Cablegate: Score One for Reform: Labor Minister Sacked For

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

080511Z Dec 03

UNCLAS ABUJA 002080

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM NI
SUBJECT: SCORE ONE FOR REFORM: LABOR MINISTER SACKED FOR
BRIBERY


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTERNET OR INTRANET.


1. (SBU) The Obasanjo Administration scored its first major
anti-corruption coup when the Independent Corrupt Practices
and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) on December 3
announced its arrest and detention of seven persons,
including current Minister of Labor Hussaini Zannuwa Akwanga,
in connection with a scandal in the national identity card
project. President Obasanjo terminated the Minister,s
appointment the next day. Several of the officials arrested
had served in the Ministry of Internal Affairs between 1999
and 2003, including former Interior Ministers Sunday Afolabi
and Mahmud Shata, and current Interior Ministry Permanent
Secretary Akerele. Labor Minister Akwanga had previously

SIPDIS
served as the Permanent Secretary at Interior Affairs.


2. (U) The French firm SAGEM was awarded the contract to
produce the ID cards in 2001 for 214 million USD, while
Afolabi was Minister. SAGEM has already received nearly 150
million USD for the project which has registered more than 50
million Nigerians. A business partner with SAGEM, Mr. Niyi
Adelagun has also been arrested; the ICPC reports that
Adelagun was the chief conduit of money to the various
Nigerian officials. Christopher Orumgre Agidi, former
Director of the Department of National Civic Registration has
been arrested in the U.K., and the GON is currently seeking
his extradition. The other official charged in the scandal
is Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, a former Governor of Enugu State
and Secretary of the ruling People,s Democratic Party.


3. (SBU) COMMENT: This is the best news reformers in Nigeria
have had in a long time. President Obasanjo started the ICPC
in 1999 to investigate government corruption, but the ICPC
has done little until now and many Nigerians had considered
it toothless. Further concrete reform action may be in the
offing. The separate (GON-internal) Code of Conduct Tribunal
has announced it is bringing charges against several other,
as yet unnamed, public officials, including Governors and a
Ministry's Permanent Secretary, for failing to declare their
assets.
MEECE

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