House of Reps suspends Farouk, includes Otedola’s firms amongst subsidy fund thieves

Channels Television  
Updated June 15, 2012

The House of Representatives on Friday suspended  the Chairman of  it’s ad hoc committee that probed the fuel subsidy and the Chairman of the Committee of Education, Farouk Lawan, over the alleged $3million bribe from billionaire oil magnate Femi Otedola.

The lawmakers also passed a motion to rescind its decision to remove Mr Otedola’s company – Zenon Oil and Gas from the list of companies indicted by the subsidy probe report.

Mr Otedola had accused the embattled lawmaker of demanding $3 million bribe from him in order to omit his company – Zenon Petroleum from the list of companies indicted to have mismanaged the fuel subsidy fund.

According to the oil merchant, Mr Lawan had already collected $500, 000 in two instalments from him while the Secretary of the ad hoc committee, Boniface Emenalo also collected $120, 000 in two instalments.

Mr Otedola claimed that he had video and audio evidences to support his claims that both the lawmaker and the staff of the National Assembly demanded and took bribe from him.

Mr Lawan’s committee had initially listed Zenon Petroleum among oil marketers that bought foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but failed to use the money to import fuel.

According to the initial report, Zenon oil and gas bought $232,975,385.13 worth of forex, but did not import petrol. The report had recommended that Mr Otedola’s company and 14 other marketers that had bought the foreign exchange be referred to the anti-corruption agencies to determine what they used the monies for.

However, while the report of the committee that probed the management of the fuel subsidy fund was being considered by the House of Representatives’ committee of whole, Mr Lawan moved a motion to remove Mr Otedola’s companies from the list of indicted companies.

The House of Representatives in its Friday’s emergency session ask the committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate the veracity of the bribery allegations against Mr Lawan.

The House also passed a vote of confidence on the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and the leadership of the House of Representatives based on a motion moved by Samson Osagie.

Mr Osagie warned against a dangerous trend whereby the executive arm of government will be using security agencies to intimidate elected members of the legislature in order to protect powerful people.

He said the recording of the alleged receipt of the bribe by security agencies was reminiscent of the Watergate scandal under former United States President, Richard Nixon.

He however said that even when a member of the House of Representatives is indicted of corruption, the House is not indicted.

The House also directed its committees on anti-graft agencies to ensure the implementation of the recommendations in the report by the relevant agencies.

In a short speech, the Speaker of the House of Representatives urged Nigerians to continue to support the House and vowed that it would not allow the bribery scandal overshadow the fuel subsidy probe report.

“”We shall never compromise our stand against corruption. May I also ask the executive to match words with action in the implementation of this report.

“As members of the parliament, we enjoy no immunity and seek none,” he said.

After the Speaker’s speech, the House dissolved into a Committee of the Whole chaired by deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, and considered the motion for Synopsis and Zenon to be asked to account for the subsidy funds received by them.

After considering the report, it reverted to plenary and adopted the report.

Mr Ihedioha said the implication of the resolution is that the House has asked the anti-graft agencies to investigate Synopsis and Zenon for collecting the said subsidy funds and failing to utilise them as required.

A new chairman, John Enoh (PDP, Obubra, Cross River) was appointed to replace Mr Lawan as the new Chairman of the fuel subsidy probe panel.