$620,000 Bribery Scandal: My Story – Rep. Farouk Lawan
Farouk in two separate letters to the Inspector-General of Police dated June 22, as narrated by Daily Trust insisted through his lawyers that he played along with Otedola so as to expose how oil marketers were trying desperately to bribe his committee.
Lawan is accused of collecting $620,000 in bribes to clear Otedola’s companies in the probe report.
But Otedola said he ran a sting operation to entrap Lawan and had video-taped the lawmaker collecting the bribes.
One of the letters is from Mike Ozekhome’s chambers, while the other is from Rickey Tarfa’s chambers, though the contents are similar.
The letter from Ozekhome said it was Otedola who first made contact with Lawan, “literally constituting himself as an internal consultant to the committee, providing insider information on the fuel subsidy scheme…. It was when his companies were indicted that he became desperate and resorted to cheap blackmail.”
Lawan said the bribery saga began when on April 21 Otedola surfaced in his (Lawan’s) Protea Hotel room in Abuja with bundle of documents “which he claimed showed that one of his oil companies, Zenon Oil, already indicted in the report, did not participate in the fuel subsidy scam.”
The letter said Lawan took the documents, but Otedola then offered him $250,000 to ensure the companies were dropped from the indictment list.
“This was in the evening of Monday the 23rd of April, 2012, a few days before the report (was) to be debated in the House but few days after the final report had actually been laid before the House on 17th of April, 2012,” the letter said.
Next, Otedola called Lawan severally and pleaded with him to come to his house to collect more documents that would show the innocence of his oil companies in the subsidy fraud, the letter said.
Lawan “played along” and visited Otedola on April 22 where Otedola gave him more documents and additional $250,000 bribe. He also offered to give $3 million.
The letter said “as soon as he collected the total sum of $500,000”, Lawan wrote a letter at 3.47am on April 24 to chairman of the House committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes informing of the bribe “attempt” and “attaching” the amount collected.
“Our client maintains that he opted to collect the money to keep as exhibit because of desperation, hostility and veil threats,” the letter added. “Our client says that on one night alone, he received about 50 missed calls from Mr. Otedola as he deliberately kept away from his undue pressure.”
Lawan also said he verbally reported efforts to bribe his committee to EFCC chairman Ibrahim Lamorde on April 20 “though he did not mention Mr. Otedola specifically.”
On how Lawan removed Otedola’s companies from his report after collecting the bribe, the letter said this was done “based on fresh available evidence later presented by Mr. Otedola.”
In the letter, Lawan argued that he was the first to bring the bribe matter to public limelight and to the Police, which is an indication of his innocence. He also denied media reports to the effect that he stuffed some of the bribe dollars in his cap, saying that he did not wear a cap on both occasions that met Otedola.
There was no immediate comment from Otedola on the contents of Lawan’s letters to the Police.
Otedola is scheduled to appear before a House of Representatives committee probing the matter on Tuesday.