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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Nigerian bribe claim dismissed
National Assembly building
The bribe was to have been distributed among senators
Nigeria's senate has dismissed allegations that a minister was asked to pay a bribe of $414,000 to confirm his appointment.

In a unanimous vote late on Thursday night, the senate decided to "consign the allegation into the dustbin of history" because Nasir el-Rufai had not presented any evidence to support his claims.

Some senators even suggested that action should be taken against him for bringing the senate into disrepute by making the allegations.

On Tuesday, Mr el-Rufai accused two senior senators of requesting the money in order to secure the support of the majority of the house.

On the same day, Nigeria was named as the world's second most corrupt country, in a survey by the campaign group Transparency International.

The two men he accused, leading figures in the ruling People's Democratic Party, have denied the claims.

'Pathological liar'

Mr el-Rufai said that when he replied that he did not have the money, he was told to recoup his "investment" from land sales.

He was recently confirmed as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, giving him control of the new purpose-built capital, Abuja, which is experiencing a property boom.

Abuja building site
El-Rufai says he was told to profit from Abuja's construction boom

He said that deputy majority leader Jonathan Zwingina and deputy senate president Ibrahim Mantu told him that selling a single plot of land would enable him to make back the bribe money.

Mr Zwingina said he was "shocked and horrified" by the accusations.

"I saw in that statement things that are completely fabricated, malicious and intended to damage reputations... There is no iota of truth whatsoever, no grain of truth in the allegation," he told the committee.

"I did not demand any money from el-Rufai. He is a pathological liar," Mr Mantu said.

The BBC's Anna Borzello in Abuja said this was the first time anyone can remember that a senior government official has made a corruption allegation against his peers and then offered it up for public scrutiny.

The government has repeatedly said it will take steps against corruption and has set up numerous committees to deal with the problem.

But so far there has been little visible impact, our correspondent says.

Nigerian minister tells of bribe
08 Oct 03  |  Africa
Nigerian MPs curb sleaze body
08 May 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Nigeria
23 Apr 03  |  Country profiles

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