15 June 2012

Nigeria: Police Quiz, Detain Farouk

Chairman of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe Farouk Lawan was yesterday questioned for several hours and subsequently detained overnight by police investigators for alleged bribe taking.

The allegation was levelled against him by the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola, who claimed that Farouk demanded bribe, but was given marked money totalling $620,000. He also alleged that the secretary of the committee, Boniface Emenalo collected part of the bribe money. Around 8pm yesterday, the deputy force public relations officer, Chief Superintendent Frank Mba confirmed that Farouk was with the police and was answering questions.

"I can confirm that Rep. Lawan is with us. He is being interrogated by our investigators," he said. When asked whether they would be allowed to go home, he said, "I can't confirm when Farouk will be allowed to go home."

The money was meant to cover the wrongdoings of Otedola's oil company in the fuel subsidy scam investigated by the committee. A source at the police headquarters in Abuja said Farouk, who was invited by the task force, arrived at investigators' office around 4pm.

The source said Farouk went to the task force office together with Emenalo at the first floor where they spent few minutes before they were taken to the office of the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar at the seventh floor.

The IG later directed the task force to question the suspects. The head of the task force, Commissioner Ali Amadu, together with his team subsequently commenced interrogation. The police were said to have asked the suspects questions about the allegations against them of taking bribe from Otedola as well as the whereabouts of the $620,000 they were said to have received.

Journalists who kept vigil at the police headquarters could not confirm if the suspects actually handed over the money to the police. But a source said they were cooperating with the investigators. As at press time (11:00 pm) yesterday, the source told Daily Trust that the investigators were not through with the accused persons and would not leave the force headquarters. He said they are likely to be charged with bribery and breach of trust today.

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