The founder of Zenon Oil, Mr Femi Otedola on Wednesday appeared before a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court to testify in the trial of a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Farouk Lawan for alleged fraud.
Otedola who is a prosecution witness in the trial was allegedly pressured by Mr Lawan to part with a three-million-dollar bribe while Lawan was chairing a subcommittee investigating a multi-billion-dollar fraud associated with government fuel subsidy during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He (Otedola) entered the witness box after he was introduced by the prosecution counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo after which a video where Mr Lawan was seen receiving $500 000 from the Zenon oil boss, was played.
According to Otedola, the accused had indicted his company in the alleged fraud and demanded three million dollars to exonerate him.
He added that after the initial deposit of $500,000 was paid into his account, Lawan declared Zenon Oil and Gas free of the initial indictment.
When asked by the prosecution counsel about the claim by Lawan that the witness forced him to take the money, Otedola denied it.
Otedola also denied a claim by Lawan that Zenon Oil and Gas was exonerated on the basis of documents later provided by the company.
The defence counsel was, however, unable to cross-examine Otedola as he requested for an adjournment to enable his principal to attend the next trial and conduct the cross-examination.
Lawan was first arraigned in February 2013 along with another accused, Boniface Emenalo, for allegedly receiving $620,000 of the alleged bribe from Otedola and his company.
The House of Representatives, on Monday night, said it would probe the alleged debt of N140.9 billion, being outstanding debt of a businessman, Femi Otedola, to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, in a statement, said “we have observed with interest, the payment of N140.9 billion, being outstanding debt of Mr Otedola to AMCON. This payment was credited to AMCON’s Managing Director, Mustafa Chike-Obi.
“Obi confirmed that AMCON board met on Thursday and approved the transfer of the business-man’s assets, as well as undisclosed cash to AMCON as full payment and final settlement of Otedola’s liabilities,” he noted.
“The seventh House of Representatives would, on return from its one-week oversight tour, constitute a committee to investigate the amount and the assets so transferred to AMCOM.
“It is imperative to state that with the state of our economy, this transaction was done with confidentiality and secrecy.
“It is curious that AMCON, being a government establishment which is under the purview of the National Assembly, could do that without the knowledge of the House.
“To say the least, the procedure is not acceptable. The National Assembly would be interested in getting full details of the transaction,” it read.
More evidence are forthcoming in the alleged bribery scandal involving Honourable Farouk Lawan and the MD/CEO Zenon Oil and Gas over the alleged payment of $620,000 out of the $3million bribe demanded.
The Chairman, House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan, is alleged to have collected $620,000 as part payment for a $3million bribe, which he demanded from billionaire and oil magnate, in a bid to exonerate his companies from the fuel subsidy probe.
The audio conversation exclusively obtained by Channels Television, started with the MD/CEO Zenon Oil and Gas, Femi Otedola saying he does not want to take the money to his house. “I don’t want to take it to my house; it is a lot of money” he said.
Then the lawmaker replied that he is on his way out and by the time he returns, he will have to head to the chambers of the House of Representatives.
Mr Otedola then asked, if he should reschedule his planned trip to China, but the Honorable Farouk said no and offered to bring in a third person to collect the bribe.
The lawmaker gave the phone numbers 08036513355, naming the person as TJ.
Acknowledging the transaction, Mr Farouk responded affirmatively to Otedola’s remark that if he receives the initial payment, then there will be a balance of $2.5million, saying “that’s right” while he said, he will be calling the third person to ensure the collection of the initial payment.
Below is the purported audio recording:
The conversation verbatim
Otedola: How are you sir? I don’t want to bring it to my house
Lawan: Oh, you would take it to your house
Otedola: No I don’t want to bring it to my house; it is a lot of money
Lawan: err… so where? Because I’m rushing to the… they are at the airport now?
Otedola: Yes they are in the airport in the aircraft
Lawan: Well I can’t come over now and before they can come over now unless I send somebody to but I can’t because…by the time they come I should be…I have a lot of things to do myself
Otedola: Is there anybody you think I can give it to or maybe I should just postpone my trip to China till tomorrow?
Lawan: No, no it’s ok…I’ll arrange it with someone…let me give you his number 080
Otedola: hold on hold on
Otedola: (Repeats number after him)What’s the name?
Lawan: aaarrh… TJ
Lawan: No, Tj
Otedola: OK. So I will give him the balance; that is erm… 2.5 million dollars, yea?
Lawan: that’s right. Hold on. I’m calling him to be sure his phone is on…..
Chairman of the house committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Mr. Adams Jagaba has denied receiving the sum of 500, 000 dollars from embattled former chairman of the ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy, Mr. Farouk Lawan. Bringing a new twist to the ongoing $620, 000 bribery allegation brought against Mr. Lawan.
Jagaba, was speaking after a closed-door meeting with the house Ethics committee which is investigating the matter, where he presented his own testimony.
Jabaga, however, maintained that he will never be involved in any act that runs contrary to national interest.
While stating that he first saw the letter purportedly written by Lawan on the pages of a newspaper and later at the Police headquarters, the lawmaker analysed the letter and pointed out the errors contained in it.
Jagaba said it was an attempt to destroy his reputation.
He said: “Farouk Lawan alleged that he wrote a letter to me attaching $500,000. That is callously untrue and in fact, calculated to smear my hard-earned reputation, a reputation I painstakingly built since 1999.
“I never received any letter, or money, or any other exhibit from Farouk Lawan.
“I saw for the first time the purported letter on a page of the Leadership Newspaper, page 6 of June 14, 2012; and the closest copy which I saw and touched, was the copy he presented to the Police Special Task Force investigating the bribery scandal, when I went there on July 10.
“I was invited by the Police STF while in South Africa attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) Summit.
“When I returned to Nigeria, I went to the Police Force Headquarters on July 10 at about 11:00 am to give my own side of the story on the bribery scandal investigation and I spent precisely two hours with them.”
Channels Television has obtained the Part 2 of the audio recording purported to be the conversation between Honorable Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola over the $3million bribery allegation scandal.
Here is the audio recording:
Transcript of the audio recording
Lawan: it wasn’t like my brother talking. That’s one. Secondly, please this thing that we are doing, keep it to yourself otherwise you will make it difficult for us …
Otedola: Ok, ok. I am na
Lawan: Because somebody called me now and said that we said we are going to address it.
Otedola: address what?
Lawan: Yea. Because if it is already out that we are going to do something, when we do it, people will think that we are doing it because we have been compromised. And you know that is something that errrrr… And if my colleagues get to hear about it, I wouldn’t be able to convince them. So keep it to yourself.
Lawan: Let it not be like anybody is aware of what is happening. If anybody ask you, simply explain that this thing, you know from your records. You have all records and you have made a case to the committee. You have sent your documents to the committee
Otedola: Yea, Yea
Lawan: Yea. It’s left for the committee… it’s left for the committee to decide what to do. Please keep it that way.
Otedola: Yea. God bless you. God bless you
Lawan: Yea. Because the moment it gets out now we are going to correct it. Then it means we have already Haaa… so let it be …
Otedola: Ok, Ok
Lawan: I want to spring a surprise on the floor and only that is the only credible way I can do this. So please, please.
Otedola: God bless you. God bless you my brother. I have been crying. Anytime I hear your voice
Lawan: Yes. You know your sector is small. Everybody knows… and people are already saying … Somebody just called now and said Femi has gotten his way around you guys and he has already succeeded.
Otedola: That is not true. But let me also tell you one thing ….
Lawan: No, no, no, no. I am saying it because this is what I heard
Otedola: But my brother, let me also tell you one thing. You know me as a person
Lawan: It doesn’t have… I know… I don’t want
Otedola: People just get up
Lawan: I know. That makes it difficult. Just, just whoever… you know… no. I didn’t do this. I’m sure it must have been a mistake from the committee but I have sent a letter to set the record right
The Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola, on Tuesday honoured the invitation of the House of Representatives Ethics and Privileges Committee probing his alleged $620,000 bribe to the suspended Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Farouk Lawan which probed the management of the fuel subsidy fund. The committee then went into a closed door session. However, Mr Otedola requested the hearing should be conducted in public.
The committee had invited the billionaire businessman to explain allegations that he gave $620,000 bribe to Mr Lawan, and the erstwhile secretary, Boniface Emenalo, to get his companies off the list of firms indicted for the alleged mismanagement of oil subsidy funds.