This Day (Lagos)

13 February 2013

Nigeria: Lamorde, Otedola to Testify Against Lawan

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde and the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Limited, Mr Femi Otedola are among the witnesses that will testify against, Farouk Lawan and Emenalo Boniface who are both standing trial for allegedly collecting a bribe of $500,000 from Otedola as an inducement to remove his company's name from the companies indicted in the fuel subsidy scam.

In the proof of evidence filed in support of the charges, Lamorde will testify that Lawan came to his office sometime in April, 2012 and reported to him that there were some fuel marketers who wanted to bribe him.

The EFCC's boss will also give evidence that he told Lawan that arrangement would be made to ensure that the marketers were arrested at the point of giving him the money and that Lawan should inform him as soon as he was ready.

He will further testify that Lawan did not return to him again but only called him three days later to inform him that the fuel marketers were no longer forthcoming.

"He will testify that the 1st accused person (Lawan) neither mentioned the names of the alleged bribe givers nor that he had earlier collected any money from any person", the prosecution stated.

In his evidence, Otedola will testify that sometime in 2012 the House of Representatives committee investigating petroleum subsidy regime invited his company Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited over allegation that it collected subsidy without importation.

He will also give evidence that his staff appeared before the committee and informed the committee that his company did not participate in the fuel subsidy regime, being a trading company with core competence in diesel.

The business man will further state that, Lawan called him on phone and demanded the sum of $3million from him so that the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas would be removed from the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Monitoring of subsidy regime's report.

He will state that all efforts to persuade him that his company was not involved in the subsidy issue yielded no result.

Other evidence to be given by Otedola is: "That he eventually reported the matter of demand and extortion by the accused persons to the Department of State Security Service. That the accused persons subsequently collected a part payment of $620,000 from him at different times and that Boniface did not report the offer and acceptance of the monies to the ICPC or the police."

Other witnesses are men of the Special Anti-Fraud Unit of the Inspector General of Police, Force Headquarters, Abuja, who investigated the allegations.

Both Lawan and Emenalo had pleaded not guilty to the allegations of demanding and receiving bribes and had been admitted to bail.

Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi admitted them on bail in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

The accused persons were ordered to leave their travelling documents with the registrar of the court pending the conclusion of their trial.

The trial will resume on April 10.

Otedola had alleged that the Lawan-led ad hoc committee demanded $3 million out of which he paid $0.6 million as gratification in order to strike out the name of his company, Zenon Oil, from the list of indicted firm.

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