$3m bribery allegation rock Nigeria’s N/A oil subsidy probe

10 June 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos - The leadership of Nigeria’s House of Representatives ad hoc committee on oil subsidy is alleged to have collected $600,000 part payment on an agreed $3 million bribe settlement from Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman of Forte Oil Plc (former AP Plc) and Zenon Oil, for the purposes of leaving his companies out of the findings of the probe.

It is alleged that shortly after the close of the public hearing Mr. Otedola had approached Farouk Lawan to ensure his companies are not indicted by the report of the committee.

Consequently, they reached an agreement for payment of $3million and Mr. Otedola who was recording the whole transaction with a pen camera paid half a million dollars promising to pay the balance after release of the report.

It was gathered that upon his return from Otedola’s home in Abuja where the transaction took place Lawan invited Mr. Jagaban Adams Jagaban, the House committee chairman overseeing the activities of Nigeria’s anti-graft police, the EFCC and told him what had transpired.
Jagaban then prevailed on him to let him take custody of the money, a request Lawan obliged.

It is alleged that Mr. Otedola also invited the clerk of the ad hoc committee, Boniface Emenalor and paid him $100,000 to get him involved in doctoring the report such that his companies are not mentioned.

On his return, the clerk was said to have briefed Lawan and the money was given to Mr. Jagaban.

House of Representatives React
While these disclosures have generated all manner of heated debate as to the motives of Farouk Lawan, Jagaban adams Jagaban and Boniface Emenalor, especiallyregsarding the timing of the bribery disclosure, the House of Representatives, yesterday, disclosed it would investigate the allegation that members of its Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy took $600,000 bribe from an oil company chieftain.

“While we await investigation into those weighty allegations, we wish to state without equivocation that this honourable House will never take sides with corruption and we will always stand on the side of the rule of law”, the House said in a statement by the chairman of its committee on media and public affairs, Hon. Zakari Mohammed.

The allegation of the bribery blew open after former President Olusegun Obasanjo alleged that there were thieves and armed robbers in the National Assembly and state legislative houses, and the Speaker of the House Hon. Aminu Tambuwal travelled to the former president’s Ota residence to seek audience with him over the statement.

It was gathered that Obasanjo showed Tambuwal a certain video recording which showed the committee member collecting a huge amount of foreign currency ( said to be $600,000) from some oil company officials.

Tambuwal was said to have been rudely shocked by the video Obasanjo showed him to justify why he made his controversial allegation against the lawmakers.

It was gathered that the Speaker confronted the committee member over the issue in a meeting of principal officers of the House where he had been summoned to defend himself.

There were speculations, at the weekend, that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had invited the House adhoc committee member for interrogation but this could not be confirmed.

Reacting to the scandal, yesterday, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mohammed, in a statement, said “The attention of the House of Representatives has been drawn to reports alleging that one of its members, has, in the course of his committee work as a member of the ad hoc committee which investigated the subsidy regime, allegedly received a gratification from an oil baron to exonerate his companies from complicity in the oil subsidy scam.

“While we await investigation into these weighty accusations, we wish to state without equivocation that this Honourable House will never take side with corruption and we will always stand on the side of the rule of law.

“The reason we inaugurated the ad hoc committee to look into the controversial subsidy regime in the first place was to expose corruption in the sector, as such, we cannot, for whatever reason, support any underhand dealing from any quarter.

“However, these accusations, what ever their merits, do not detract from the quality of the work done by the committee. The report of that committee was adopted by the whole House and we stand by the resolutions of the House.

“The present House of Representatives will not relent in it’s efforts to render quality legislation and oversight functions to Nigerians. Today, we are gradually beginning to see the end of this monstrosity that has bedeviled our progress as a nation for so long.

“We hope that the Executive will not, because of this allegation, abandon it’s commitment towards bringing to justice, the culprits already identified in the committee’s report.”

It would be recalled that the Speaker had heaped praises on the Committee when it submitted its report which was subsequently adopted by the entire House”.