A source, who was involved in a House of Representatives committee investigation into the Halliburton bribery scandal in the early 2000s, has indicated that Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari was paid $1.8m in bribes.
The Halliburton bribery scandal started from 1994 when the Nigerian government kicked off plans to build the Bonny Island Natural Liquefied Gas Project. The scandal involved a network of secretive banks and offshore tax havens that were used to pay $182 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in exchange for $6 billion in contracts for an international consortium of companies that included a then Halliburton subsidiary.
The company wanted to ensure that the contracts were secured by bribing every influential and potentially influential Nigerian. The source claimed that the committee’s report indicted former Heads of State Sani Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo allegedly tried, when he was president, to intimidate the House committee chairman from implicating him.
The source indicated that a significant chunk of the money was paid to Abacha’s Chief of Staff, who then decided who was to receive a cut and the amount they received.
It was not clear why Aisha Buhari was seen as relevant enough at the time to receive $1.8m in bribes. But she was close to the wife of then vice president Atiku Abubakar, and he was alleged to have received a share of the bribes. Most of the top officials that received the payments did so through proxies. So Aisha Buhari may have been a proxy.
The source claimed that Aisha Buhari has not accompanied her husband to his two official trips to the US since becoming president for fear that she could be arrested for her part in the bribery scandal.