Police investigators are in a dilemma over the whereabouts of the N96m bribe received by the Chairman of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy, Mr. Farouk Lawan, from the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola.
Our correspondent gathered in Abuja that Lawan, who appeared at the Force Headquarters on Wednesday, insisted that he gave the money to the Chairman, Committee on Narcotics and Anti-corruption, Adams Jagaba. Investigations showed that the police probe into the matter was compounded by the refusal of the State Security Service to provide the Special Task Force with the original copy of the video recording of what transpired between Lawan and Otedola.
The police STF had also not received details of marked money allegedly given to Lawan by Otedola. Saturday PUNCH had exclusively reported on June 23 that the police had written the Director-General of the SSS asking for the materials, but the latter had not released the items.
Our correspondents learnt that the STF was not making progress in the investigation because of its inability to know the whereabouts of the money. This came to the fore on Wednesday as Jagaba and members of the committee on fuel subsidy again shunned the police invitation. They were expected to appear before the STF on Wednesday, but only Lawan and the clerk of the ad hoc committee, Boniface Emenalo, turned up.
The police had last week invited Jagaba and the committee members. Jagaba was asked to bring the exhibit money. The lawmaker declined, but however wrote the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, saying he did not collect any money from Lawan.
Sources said the STF confused about the next step to take, following the ‘dribbling‘ by Lawan and the refusal of other committee members and Jagaba to honour police invitation. Other committee members that were invited had yet to appear before the police too.
A source said, “Investigators are confused and didn’t know what to do because Lawan kept dribbling them about the whereabouts of the money and it seems the STF is intimidated by the caliber of people involved in the matter.
“I think the fact that the Inspector-General of Police, is in acting capacity is an issue and that may be why the police are afraid to go tough with the lawmakers. “The fact that the SSS has not been cooperating with us by releasing materials in its possession is not helping the matter. This investigation is heading for the rock.”
Meanwhile, Lawan has stated that Otedola offered to bribe the members of ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy with huge money from the Presidency so that the final report on subsidy payment could be watered down.
Lawan explained that the Zenon Oil and Gas chairman touted his close friendship with President Goodluck Jonathan and how he assisted him (Jonathan) in various ways when he was the Vice President.
According to him, Otedola threatened him to remove the names of his companies AP and Zenon Oil from the list of indicted firms, otherwise he would use his connections in the Presidency to ruin his future political ambition.
The diminutive lawmaker, in his statement to the STF investigating the N96m bribery scandal involving him, Boniface Emenalo, and other committee members claimed that Otedola pestered him to exonerate his companies and went as far as threatening to truncate his political ambition.
“Otedola told me he could serve as a link to collect money from the Presidency so that the report will be watered down. Having seen him as a friend, I consistently turned down such offers politely but firmly, but when I saw his desperation after the release of the report, I decided to play along and use his case as example of those who tried to compromise us (committee members),” Lawan wrote.
Police sources told our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday that Lawan claimed he visited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, on April 27, 2012, where he reported Otedola’s attempts to induce him with money in order to destroy the fuel subsidy report.