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Cablegate: Gon Withdraws Ministerial Corruption Charges

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

UNCLAS ABUJA 000974

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KCOR PREL KDEM NI
SUBJECT: GON WITHDRAWS MINISTERIAL CORRUPTION CHARGES

REF: A. ABUJA 903

B. ABUJA 764
C. ABUJA 35
D. 03 ABUJA 2080

1. The Nigerian government's prosecutor withdrew the
corruption charges against six senior ex-officials of the GON
June 2, and Abuja High Court Judge Mudashiru Oniyangi
dismissed the case. Labor Minister Husseini Akwanga had been
indicted, then fired, in December 2003, clearing the way for
Akwanga, former Interior Ministers Mohammed Shata and Sunday
Afolabi, Interior Ministry PermSec Akerele, former state
governor and past Secretary of the ruling PDP Okwesilieze
Nwodo, and Interior Ministry Director Christopher Agidi to be
tried on 16 counts of corruption in a scandal over Nigeria's
National ID Card project (Refs B-D). The core charge was
that the ministers and their collaborators allegedly received
over USD 2 million from a Nigerian business partner of the
French firm Sagem S.A. to ensure Sagem won the USD 214
million National ID Card project contract.

2. The accused received bail, and the trial has been
postponed several times since December. The judge and
prosecution team were both changed. Indicted ex-Minister
Afolabi died May 10 under strange circumstances in London
(Ref A). Although the Independent Corrupt Practices
Commission (ICPC) may re-file charges against the five who
survived, Judge Oniyangi freed the suspects from any
remaining bail restrictions and returned their passports.

3. COMMENT: The six, now five, were the most senior group
of officials ever indicted in the Obasanjo administration's
"war on corruption." Post analysis of the prosecutor's
dropping of the case and future prospects will follow septel.
CAMPBELL

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