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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 December, 2003, 13:00 GMT
Nigeria ministers on bribe charge
Poster for Nigerian ID card
Identity cards were finally introduced earlier this year
Three former ministers and two officials have been charged with corruption in connection with a $214m contract to produce identity cards.

The BBC's Mannir Dan-Ali in the capital, Abuja, says this case is being seen as a test of the government's pledge to stamp out corruption.

Nigeria is regularly named as one of the world most corrupt countries.

In a packed courtroom, the men pleaded not guilty to charges that they sought bribes from the French firm, Sagem.

Former Internal Affairs Ministers Sunday Afolabi and Mahammed Shatta and former Labour Minister Hussain Akwanga denied 16 charges that they had sought bribes worth some $2m, along with two senior officials.

Mr Akwanga was sacked earlier this month.

Reuters news agency reports that the local representative of Sagem failed to appear in court.

The Sagem charges are the highest-profile case yet brought by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo three years ago.

It has yet to secure the conviction of a senior official.


SEE ALSO:
Nigeria's new war on corruption
07 Nov 03  |  Business
Fake copy made of Nigerian bill
06 Nov 03  |  Africa
Nigerian MP on fraud charges
30 May 03  |  Africa
Bad start for Nigerian ID scheme
19 Feb 03  |  Africa


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