02 July 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA — THE suspended Chairman of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Utilisation, Farouk Lawan, who was involved in an alleged $3m bribe has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, saying the chairman of Zenon Oil, Mr. Femi Otedola, who gave him part of the money is the suspect in the scandal.
He challenged the businessman to a face-to-face confrontation before the police team of investigators.
Lawan, who has hired four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs for the legal battle ahead, also tasked the security agencies, including the police and the State Security Service, to make public the controversial video of his meetings with Otedola.
Similarly, Lawan called for the publication of the call logs and text messages between him and Otedola, which according to him, will prove that the public had been fed with lies against him.
The four SANs who forwarded Lawan’s petition to the police are Rickey Tarfa, Israel Olorundare, Mike Ozekhome and Sam Ologunorisa.
Detail accounts of meetings
In two separate petitions by the lawyers, Lawan gave detailed accounts of his meetings with Mr. Otedola. The first was in his hotel room at Protea Hotel, Apo, Abuja on April 23, 2012 when Otedola gave him $250, 000 after submitting further documents.
The second meeting was in Otedola’s house at Aso Drive, Abuja, were he claimed the oil magnate gave him more documents and another $250,000.
Lawan claimed in his petition that he played along with Otedola due to several threats by the former and in order to expose him and that as soon as he collected the $500,000, he wrote a letter to the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes on April 24, 2012 and attached the $500,000 offered by Mr Otedola him.
According to him, “the truth is that contrary to the various false publications in the press, which appear to swing the mood of the public against our client, our client maintains that whilst the report of the committee had been compiled, written and presented before the House and he was putting finishing touches to its formal debate in his hotel room at Protea Hotel, Apo, Abuja (to which he had relocated from his house to escape the unbearable pressure mounted on him by oil marketers, including Mr. Femi Otedola, he was surprised when Mr. Femi Otedola surfaced in the hotel on Saturday,April 21, 2012 and called his room number.
“When our client let him in, he brought out a bundle of documents which he claimed showed that one of his oil companies, Zenon Oil, already indicted in the reports, did not participate in the fuel subsidy scam. Our client states that, at this time, both Zenon Oil and AP Petroleum (Forte Oil) had been indicted based on available evidence. Mr. Femi Otedola claimed that he was already aware of this indictment, hence he decided to personally bring document to convince our client that, that was not the case.
“Our client collected the documents. As Mr. Otedola was about to leave, he handed over the sum of $250,000 to our client which he said was to ensure that his companies were removed from the list of indicted companies. This was the evening of Monday, April 23, a few days before the report was to be debated in the House, but few days after the final report had actually been laid before the House on April 17, 2012.
“Our client informed us that he had collected the money to display as exhibit that the committee had been under severe pressure and subtle threat to compromise its report.
“Our client states that Mr. Otedola then called him severally and even pleaded with him to come to his house at Aso Drive, Abuja, for more of the documents which he claimed to have forgotten to bring to our client’s hotel room at Protea Hotel, Apo, Abuja.
“Our client said he played along by going to Otedola’s house in the early hours of the 22nd of April, 2012 during which Otedola handed over more documents and a further sum of $250,000. Our client states that Mr. Otedola further offered to make a total of $3 millon.
“As soon as he had collected the total sum of $500,000, our client immediately wrote a letter at 3.47a.m on April 24, 2012 to the chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes with the letter entitled ‘Offer of Monetary Inducement by Femi Otedola to influence Committee Report.’ Our client attached the sum $500,000 offered by Mr. Otedola to him with a promise to bring another $2.5 million,” the petition read in part.
The lawyers said the collection of the $500,000 was to serve as evidence of Mr. Otedola’s desperate attempt to bribe the committee and that contrary to claims of the alleged bribe giver, no security agency was involved in “the so-called sting operation.”
Face-to-face confrontation with Otedola
“Our client is willing to have a face-to-face confrontation with Mr. Otedola before you, in the course of investigation in this matter.
“Our client hereby challenges the SSS, police, Mr. Otedola or any other person for that matter, to produce for public inspection and viewing the video or film and call logs of the conversation between him and Mr. Otedola unedited and undoctored, and it will be seen that the entire story sold to the public and the police by Mr. Otedola is nothing but an after thought, total fabrication and a diet of deliberate falsehood and half truths,” the petition said.