17 June 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Police authorities investigating the $620, 000 bribe money allegedly collected by Mr. Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo, Chairman and Secretary of the Fuel Subsidy Probe Panel of the House of Representatives, respectively, have to granted the duo bail after both told the Ali Amodu-led Special Task Force (STF), of their roles in the scam.
The alleged bribe collected by both men is said to be part of a negotiated $3 million settlement from Mr. Femi Otedola to get his companies Forte Oil Plc and Zenon delisted from among 15 companies said to have collected forex from the CBN without importing petroleum products.
It was gathered that the suspects are being released in keeping with the 48-hour detention order limitation and after their lawyers had met the bail conditions, but they are expected to return to the STF office tomorrow as investigation continues.
The condition attached to their temporary release is that, they should report back tomorrow with the alleged bribe money which the duo claim has been handed over to the House Privileges and Ethics Committee.
Their release was confirmed by Frank Mbah, Deputy police spokesman who gave no further details.
However, what could be regarded as a sore point in the investigation is that the Department of State Security, SSS, whose money was purportedly said to have been collected by Mr. Femi Otedola, the chairman of Zenon Oil, and given to Mr. Farouk Lawan is yet to make the serial number of the money available, making the Police bid to trace the money difficult.
Meanwhile, there are indications that many other members of the House of Representatives may have collaborated with Farouk and Emenalo in the alleged bribery scandal.
Consequently, the STF may invite some members of the House for clarifications on their roles in the scam. A senior officer attached to the police investigating body said that when they sought the cooperation of the SSS to get the serial numbers of the marked money handed over to Otedola, to cross-check whether the $10,000 found in Farouk’s Apo Legislative quarters abode during a search on Friday would match, the SSS was not forthcoming.
It was gathered that, consequently, the Commissioner of Police in charge of STF, Amodu, has resorted to employing other investigative measures in unraveling the case.
It would be recalled that before Farouk reported himself to the Police, on Thursday, a senior officer said the investigating team had compiled enough evidence, including the call logs of the discussions between Farouk and Otedola as to where, how and when the money will be handed over and collected, as well as the fact that the lawmaker went to Otedola’s house around 4 a.m. to collect the money.
Giving more insight into how such bribery monies were collected from other marketers, one Police source said they (marketers) were coerced into parting with various sums of pounds, dollars and Naira notes for fear of repercussion from Nigerians on their properties and investments, by Nigerians who were angry over the subsidy removal and payment to a few that had been milking the country dry.
“It was during further investigations into the discussions that transpired between Otedola and Farouk that we stumbled on other transactions with other oil marketers. Otedola’s case was like the straw that broke the camel’s back,” the source added.