19 June 2012

Nigeria: Lawan Promises to Tender Bribe Money to Police Today

Photo: This Day
Farouk Lawan.

Suspended Chairman, House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy, Hon. Farouk Lawan, yesterday promised to tender the $620,000 bribe money that he collected from businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, to the police.

Lawan made the commitment when he visited the Police Force headquarters, Abuja in furtherance of the ongoing investigations into the bribery scandal.

Lawan and Secretary of the ad hoc committee, Boniface Emenalo, accompanied by a team of lawyers, who arrived at the Louis Edet House at 8 am yesterday, went straight to the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) where they met with the Special Task Force in charge of the bribery case.

The visit, which was considered routine while the investigation lasts, was in keeping with their bail conditions.

Police sources said Lawan pleaded with the investigators to allow him to report tomorrow afternoon rather than in the morning to enable him to attend the plenary session of the House of Representatives and retrieve the money from the House Committee Chairman on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon. Adam Jagaba.

It was, however unclear how Lawan would be able to retrieve the money from Jagaba who had exclusively told THISDAY that contrary to his (Lawan) claim, neither he nor his committee got any letter from the embattled lawmaker in which he reported the pressure brought to bear by Otedola on him to induce him to delist his Zenon Oil and Gas from the report. He also denied seeing the $500,000 he collected from the oil chief, which he claimed he attached to the letter.

It was learnt that Lawan's expected presence in the House, which resumes sitting today, would afford him the opportunity to tell his own side of the story to his colleagues.

He was in detention last Friday when the House held its emergency session where he was suspended as chairman of the ad hoc committee as well as the Committee on Education while the Ethics and Privilege Committee was directed to investigate the allegations against him.

Sources told THISDAY that Lawan may raise the issue today as a matter of privilege and seek to be given a fair hearing since he was in police custody when the House deliberated on the matter last Friday.

It was gathered Monday that today's plenary will be preceded by meetings of state caucuses to allow members to separately iron out issues that have been left unattended to in order to avoid any undue drama on the floor of the House.

This, a source told THISDAY, had become necessary in the light of several other developments following the bribery allegation that trailed the ad hoc committee's report on the probe of subsidy regime, especially the purported threat to the House leadership by the presidency.

THISDAY gathered last night that the idea of the state caucuses meetings were suggested in the light of the disapproval of the Kano State caucus to Lawan's suspension, adding that the Kano group was aggrieved that one of their members was sacrificed in the heat of the crisis.

One source explained that the Kano caucus deems Lawan's suspension as unfair and that the leadership, rather than stand by one of its own in what they considered an entrapment, played to the gallery to save face.

Besides, the various meetings would ensure that the House remains united in the face of the alleged plot by presidency to remove the speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.

The source said the fact that Lawan has backed the decisions of the House on his suspension has further bolstered the confidence of the leadership that there were no cracks in the lower chamber for the presidency to take advantage.

According to the source, nothing extraordinary is expected at today's sitting.

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