CNN Attacks On Nigerians In Houston

by Paul I. Adujie

Houston-Texas, United States generated two very dramatic events in the last days of May 2006.

A trial court in Houston, through its jury announced the convictions of Enron founder Mr. Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, the former chairman and chief executive respectively, of the now defunct Enron Energy Corporation that was in its heydays, headquartered in Houston, and Enron was a Houston renowned institution, I might add. But then, Enron engaged in fuzzy math and it landed in legal hot waters!

Enron was once the toast of the financial markets and the darling of Wall Street. Enron had a spectacular rise to phenomenal heights on the rockets of success, at the end, Enron was a victim of its success, its fictitious success to which it was catapulted, with funny mathematics.

Why did CNN focus on a few Nigerians in Houston Despite the Enron Catastrophe in Houston? Is this just a matter of perception and perspectives? How did CNN manage to neglect the forest of the Enron debacle, while CNN was in hot pursuit of a few crumbs of trees by way of a few Nigerian immigrants involved in frauds?

Ken Lay in cuffs

Time Magazine described the Enron debacle in these words; After a four-year investigation, 16 weeks of testimony and less than six days of deliberations, a jury of eight women and four men decided the decline and fall of Enron weren’t just bad press and bad luck, as the two had claimed.

The rot came from within. For all the Porsches parked in the company garage, it turns out Enron didn’t have much in the bank. Forensic auditors have discovered that cash flow in 2000, the money left over after the bills are paid, was a negative $153 million, not the heady $3 billion claimed. The nearly $1 billion profit was bogus. Forget 2001/ Even the auditors couldn’t fathom the books that year. Banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, who financed Enron’s schemes with stock and bond offerings, have already agreed to pay $7.3 billion in restitution to shareholders. Sentencing for Lay and Skilling is set for September, but with the trial over, 16 other Enron employees who turned state’s witness can also be sentenced.

Enron’s stock price was up 36% last week, despite the news that founder Ken Lay and former CEO Jeff Skilling had been convicted of lying to investors and employees as the company sank into bankruptcy in 2001. The once mighty energy firm, which traded at $90 a share six years ago, is selling for 15¢, up 4¢ on the day after the verdicts. It would be laughable if so many people hadn’t lost so much–stockholders lost $60 billion in market value, long-serving employees lost more than $2 billion in pension money, and 5,600 people lost their jobs.

Today not much is left of the pipeline company that Lay, the preacher’s son from Missouri, turned into a high-flying purveyor of wind and water, electricity and energy emissions and, ultimately, hot air

The moral victory is won, says Steve Berman, a Seattle attorney representing some 21,000 employees who lost their pensions. Enron joins WorldCom, Adelphia and Tyco among the big companies busted by President Bush’s Corporate Fraud Task Force, which has won 1,063 convictions, including guilty verdicts against 36 chief financial officers and 167 corporate CEOs and presidents. The 64-year-old founder faces up to 165 years of hard time; Skilling, 52, is up against a possible 185 years.

The jury found that Lay criminally touted the stock even after whistle-blower Sherron Watkins gave him her famous memo in August 2001 warning that Enron’s accounting was deeply flawed; Skilling had quit only days before. Both men were found guilty on every charge of fraud and conspiracy in the indictment–six against Lay, 13 against Skilling. While Skilling was acquitted on nine charges of insider trading, he and Lay were also convicted on various other charges involving stock sales and audits.

Sam Buell, an early member of the Enron Task Force, remembers how difficult it was to assemble a case back in January 2002–a month after the company’s bankruptcy and with the suicide of Enron’s vice chairman Cliff Baxter seared into everyone’s conscience. “Enron was the 9/11 of the financial markets,” says Buell, now a visiting law professor at the University of Texas, “but nobody wanted to be a witness.” Slowly, the task force’s prosecutors turned the screws on the bad guys.”

It is funny how CNN, an American media giant, known worldwide, chose to focus on the petty crimes of some Nigerian immigrants in Houston, while a court in the same Houston, was rendering verdicts in corporate greed that led to the Enron debacle. It goes to show that it is all a matter of prisms, perceptions and perspectives. Where you stand on issues, is determined by where you sit. Arizona according to The New York Times, is the identity theft capital of America and not Houston. STOLEN LIVES; Technology and Easy Credit Give Identity Thieves an Edge Phoenix-Arizona, In a Scottsdale police station last … highest rate of identity theft complaints in the nation … to print checks in his victims’ names. So, why did CNN focus on the Nigerians in Houston? Is it because the thieves in Arizona are not Nigerians?

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Funke June 24, 2009 - 2:31 pm

Dont you see that white people dont steal?! I dont think so … i think that CNN has never really been known for doing the right thing anyway they just like to gloss coat things with a white wash gloss. Theft is not nice and thieves unless they repent and restore 7 times what they stole..will burn in Eternal Furnaces dont get me wrong, but we do need to call it as it is, if a white man steal he stealing.Some white folks boradcasters will tell you that that is not what it is.

DeNitra June 8, 2006 - 3:07 pm

I loved the report about Nigerian scams on CNN! It is my hope that they also address immigration fraud in the near future.


Asuquo Ema June 7, 2006 - 1:17 pm

What does the Enron scandal have to do with the CNN report on Nigerians in Houston committing identity fraud? I will always quote this saying "The truth is a bitter pill to swallow" and the truth is that Yes! there are a minority of Nigerians in this country that engage in nothing else but fraudulent activities. It's unfortunate that these minorities among us are the ones that always make the headlines. That same CNN documentary also pointed out that Nigerians are one of the most educated immigrants in this country even more educated than their white counterparts and so I don't think they were being biased aganist Nigerians.

The earlier we recognize the truth, the better it will be for all of us Nigerian immigrants here in this country. The same way we Nigerians are always quick to defend our reputation should be the same way we should be quick to get rid of the bad ones among us.

Ben Idris Alooma June 5, 2006 - 3:30 pm

Let's call a spade a spade. The Enron catastrophe in USA was totally exclusive of Nigeria or Nigerians in America. The Enron issue was not and should not be an excuse or license for nonsense for Nigerians in America (or anywhere in the world for that matter) to engage in fraudulent activity, drug dealing, 419 scam, credit card forgery, identity theft, criminal engagement, etc. Americans are Americans, Nigerians are Nigerians. Once an individual steps outside his/her country's geo-politcal boundary, each person is an "ambassador" of his/her country of origin. Granted the Nigerians involve in such criminal activities are very few but they still represent a sample of the entire Nigerian populace (statistically). Those criminal Nigerians represent Nigeria one way or the other, take it or leave it. Nigerians are just corrupt animals from their president(s) to their minister(s) to their governor(s) to their pastor(s), yo their imam(s), to their chief(s), to their professor(s)and all the way to their street beggar(s), period.

Those hardened criminals featured on CNN, even had the audacity to deny commiting the stated crimes, when their activities were clearly documented on video, for God's sake! Bunch of liars too! These are the same set of Nigerians who would be running around boosting, bragging, spraying, and squandering money on vanity.

I would expect the writer, Paul Adjie, as an intelligent and respected Nigerian to propose how Nigerians must remove the logs of corruptions in their eyes first before pointing at other nations internal pecks. Write or tell the truth and let the devil be ashamed. Why didn't you point out some good nationals in America who are not known for hardened crimes, for example the Jews. That notwithstanding, if all other citizens are known for commiting crimes, why can't Nigerians be known for not partaking in crimes?

Finally, I must confess that on the other hand, I know many hard working, truthful, respectable and dependable Nigerians all over America. Many are Doctors, Engineers, Professors, Chemists, Journalists, Pharmacist, Bankers, Entrepreneurs, etc. These very professional people are respected in their various chosen fields/ careers. These people must make sure that every bad element (rotten Nigerian) is flushed out of the community.

As the saying goes, " …. when the air is clean everyone breaths comfortably. All it takes is for one person to have foul air, the entire environment then stinks…". Alright, I made that saying up but it's a truism. Those minority bad Nigerians are truly making the majority good Nigerians look very bad. Get rid of them, expose them regardless of their position or your relationship with them —- president, minister, governor, pastor, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend, husband, wife, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece, club member, ethnicity, church member, mosque member, secret cult member, …….

Enron issue is completely unrelated to the CNN documentary. There is nothing to resent. Your country men and women commited the crime as charged, with prove. At present Nigerians can only defend themselves individually as non-crimnals. Good, progressive, enlightened and patriotic Africans must unite to clean up Africa and Africans — geographically, politically, medically, academically, morally, materially, physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, infrastructurally, militarily, etc. The back door mentality of expecting or thinking that the "whites" are going to develop and purify Africa is a major catastrophe. Until African countries have patriotic citizens and viable governments, the western world would continue to have field days on the continent and the inhabitants of or from the continent. Therefore do not blame CNN, look at the source. " A lame man was told that the load on his head is bent sideways. He answered, "you are looking at the load on my head while you are blind to see my legs below"


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