Farouk Lawan: Bribe money missing
The embattled former Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments, Farouk Lawan, yesterday returned to Force Headquarters, Abuja without the $490,000 he was supposed to turn in to the police Special Task Force (STF).
He was detained last Thursday when he reported to the STF after collecting $500,000 of a $3 million bribe deal from Chairman of Zenon Oil Plc, Mr. Femi Otedola, who gave him the marked money in a “string operation”.
Lawan was released on police bail last Saturday after an undertaking that he would bring the money yesterday. The police had retrieved $10,000 from him when his house was searched earlier. He was allowed to go home on self-recognition last Saturday.
Lawan allegedly struck the deal with the oil magnate to assist in removing Zenon’s name from the fuel subsidy probe report as one of the companies allegedly involved in the import scam. Otedola insisted that his firm did not enjoy from the Petroleum Subsidy Fund (PSF) because it deals in diesel, hence he had committed no crime.
But when Lawan allegedly persisted, Otedola played along and involved the security agencies in the “string operation”. The business magnate agreed to release $620,000 part-payment, while Lawan collected $500,000, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, who was secretary of the committee, pocketed $100,000.
They both appeared in the audio and video evidence submitted by Otedola to the police last Tuesday. Lawan reported to the Force Headquarters last Thursday with his lawyer at about 4pm,following an invitation by the STF investigating the alleged $620,0000, bribe. One of the bail conditions, Daily Sun gathered was that he reports to the Force Headquarters daily, pending the conclusion of investigation into the matter.
The lawmaker yesterday arrived at the Louis Edet police headquarters at about 12noon and was there until about 1: 25pm, when he left. He was said to have come wit Emenalo. He headed straight to the office of the STF located on the first floor.
Sources told Daily Sun that the investigating team was not too happy with Lawan over his failure to produce the money said to have been marked by security agencies, which he claimed to have handed over to the Chairman of the House Committee on Narcotics, Adams Jagaba, who is also expected to appear before the STF today.
The House which reconvened for an emergency session last Friday, suspending Lawan as Chair of the probe panel and Committee on Education, is expected to be in session today. Recall that the House set up the fuel subsidy payments probe committee in January 1, this year when President Goodluck Jonathan announced full deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry.
By his action, prices of petrol went up by a bout 200 percent, from N65 per litre, prompting street protests across the country for about 10days in January. Labour interveined and negotiated the reduction to the current N97 a litre.
The House of Representatives raised the ad-hoc committee to probe the fuel subsidy payments. The report ordered some indicted companies to refund N1.7trillion to the Federal Government by indicted companies.