25 November 2018

Nigeria: Despite Blowing Whistle On Subsidy Scam, Lawmaker Demanded Bribe - Otedola

Chairman , Forte Oil and billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, has revealed he alerted former -President Goodluck Jonathan about subsidy scam as well as those who ripped off Nigeria in the oil sector.

The oil mogul stated this while standing as a prosecution witness at a high court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory as he recounted how Farouk Lawan threatened to implicate his company.

Otedola also revealed that desspite blowing the whistle which led to the probe of indicted oil firms, Farouk Lawan, then-lawmaker in the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Ad -hoc Committee inaugurated by the lower chamber to investigate the scam threatened to indict his company (African Petroleum Plc now Forte Oil) and demanded $3m to exonerate him from the allegation.

The oil magnate, claimed that he got infuriated on discovering that some Nigerian companies laid claim to money for subsidy on petroleum products they never imported ., hoping that the oil sector would be sanitised.

According to him, "I realised that companies in Nigeria were claiming money for subsidy on petroleum products they never imported. When I saw how much was being stolen, I went to the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan." Surprisingly, I couldn't convince him .

He said, "I told him my observations as to how much was being stolen as money for subsidy on the product they never imported. He later told me he had consulted with the then Minister of Petroleum and that there was nothing of such."

Otedola said fustrated, " I reached out to Senator Bukola Saraki who raised the issue on the floor of the Senate and thereafter, the House of Representatives set up a panel to investigate the allegation,"

In his words, "The defendant (Lawan) reached out to me and I gave him background information as to how the monies were being stolen. I gave relevant information to the ad hoc committee. I had two companies, which are in the oil and gas industry, which were AP and Zenon oil.

He said, the two companies had something to do with the defendant's panel. AP submitted to the committee documents regarding all the importations of the company. Mr. Otaru, General Manager AP, had direct contact with the defendant's committee," he told the court.

According to Otedola , Lawan had other ideas, saying: "On 18th of April, 2012, the defendant came to see me at my house in Abuja after the report of the committee had been laid before the House of Representatives in plenary. He told me that pursuant to what we discussed on the phone while I was in the UK, he was going to indict Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd. He demanded the sum of $3m to exonerate Zenon oil. I asked him why he would indict a company that did not import petrol but diesel."

" He told me that most of the companies indicted had paid a bribe to be exonerated. I told him this was extortion."

"Subsequently, i petitioned the Department of State Services regarding the issue and a plan for a sting operation was hatched. He explained. "

"After my petition to the DG DSS, I received a call from the DSS official - from Caleb - who told me that they were going to carry out a sting operation. He told me that I will be provided with serialised dollars to give to the defendant and they were going to install video-recording gadgets in my living and dining rooms.

To achieve this goal, Otedola said about six operatives of the DSS did the installation." I was given $620,000 serialised dollars. I took the instruction of the DSS and I agreed to play along."

"On April 23, 2012, I was in my house in Abuja. The defendant came to my house and I handed over to him the $500,000 given to me by the DSS. After handing over the $500,000 to the defendant, I asked him what next. He said he would go to the House and discuss with its leadership. He said I should watch House plenary on the television. Shortly after, I watched it on the television where the defendant applied to the House in plenary that the name of Zenon oil be removed from the subsidy scam which was then removed," the oil magnate recounted.

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