$500,000 subsidy bribe: Lawan claims he wanted to expose Otedola
ABUJA-AWAY from previous insistence that he neither met with nor received any bribe from anybody, local news media in Nigeria have revealed to the contrary as reports showed that Chairman of the House of Representatives probe panel on fuel subsidy mismanagement, Farouk Lawal, indeed accepted a whopping $500,000 from billionaire oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola.
Clerk of the committee, Boniface Emenalo, also received $100,000 from the businessman. The sums added up to the $600,000 bribery scandal rocking the Nigerian parliament committee which recently exposed how some oil subsidy beneficiaries actually fleeced the nation of a staggering N1.7trn.
Farouk and Emenalo, as the correspondence indicated, however intimated the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, on the “attempt” by Otedola to bribe them. Also, there were indications in the correspondence that Lawan intimated the House committee chairman on Drugs/Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Adams Jagaba.
Lawan, in a letter to Jagaba, wrote, “Attached (to the letter) is the sum of five hundred thousand dollars only offered to me with another promise of two million, five hundred thousand dollars.” Another letter written by Emenalo to Lawan read, “I wish to inform you that I was on his invitation, at the residence of their Chairman, Mr. Femi Otedola, in Maitama (Aso Drive) this morning and he offered me the sum of one hundred thousand US dollars in two bundles of $50,000 each. The money is herewith forwarded as evidence.”
Another letter, reference number,CR:3000/IGP.SEC/STF/FHQ/ABJ/VOL 2/309 indicated that the IG directed “a discreet investigation into the matter.” The letter was signed by Commissioner of Police, Special Task Force, Ali Amodu.
However, Both Jagaba and the police on Monday declined comments on their involvement in the matter. While Jagaba affirmed that he could not comment on the matter via telephone, spokesman for the police, Frank Mba, said he had yet to get an update on the probe. “I was unable to reach CP Ali Amodu who is handling the investigation but I will get back to you once I get an update on the matter,” he said over the phone on Monday.
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A fresh insight into the bribery scandal came as a newspaper learnt announced on Monday that the video recordings of the transaction between Lawan and Otedola had been shown to President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senate President David Mark and House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.
Otedola had revealed in an interview with another local media how he involved the security agents to supervise Lawan’s persistent demand for a bribe from him. He also narrated how he released a total sum of $620,000 to Lawan and Emenalo in three tranches, all monitored and recorded by the security agents.
The embattled ad hoc committee chairman said in another letter that he did not raise the issue of Otedola’s pressure on him on the floor of the House because it would overshadow the essence of the fuel subsidy probe. Lawan stated in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by media houses in Nigeria on Monday that, “I had considered bringing this issue as a matter of privilege on the floor of the House later today (April 24), but I am concerned that the controversy it will generate will dwarf the contents of the report, which needs public attention so that necessary reforms in the sector could be affected.”
The ad hoc committee chairman added that Otedola issued veiled verbal threats against him. He said, “Given the desperation of Mr. Otedola, handling this matter, in a firm but diplomatic manner is necessary as he has also made some veiled threats which put me and members of the committee in a delicate situation.” The ad hoc committee chairman also disclosed that the clerk of the committee, Emenalo, had in a letter written to him on April 24, 2012, said Otedola offered him $100,000.
Threat allegation Lawan also stated that the police were aware of the offer of a bribe as the Acting Inspector-General in a letter dated, May 9, 2012, directed the task force on investigation to meet him. Lawan explained that in a letter dated May 31, 2012, he told the IGP that the matter (bribe offer) had been referred to the relevant committee of the House for legislative action.
He said that he promised that the House would inform him about the outcome of the legislative action. According to him, the IGP in a letter to the Speaker of the House, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, dated June 4, 2012, stated that a detailed criminal investigation had been ordered into the matter.
In the letter titled, “Investigation activities: Letter of invitation in a case of criminal conspiracy and attempt to pervert the course of justice by offering gratification,” the office of the IGP stated that “the Inspector General of Police has directed a detailed criminal investigation into the matter.”