Otedola sues Tambuwal, Lawan for N250 billion damages

The chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Mr  Femi Otedola has filed  a N250 billion suit against  the Speaker of the  House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal,  and former chairman of the House ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe, Honorable Farouk Lawan.

The oil mogul dragged the two legislators before an Abuja High Court, where he is claiming the sum of N250 billion as compensation for business losses he suffered by the action of the two defendants.

The suit filed by Babajide Koku (SAN), is seeking N100 billion as  general damages on behalf of Mr Otedola, for acts of intimidation, loss of good-will and patronages occasioned by the acts of the Speaker and Farouk.

Joining in the suit, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Company, a company owned by Mr Otedola, sought another N150 billion against the defendants as exemplary damages for their alleged oppressive and arbitrary actions against him and  his company.

Reps to deliberate on Farouk next week

The plaintiff is also challenging an alleged move by the legislators to re-list his company among the oil firms already indicted for allegedly defrauding the federal government with the fuel subsidy scandal.

The House of Representative is expected to deliberate on a report by a committee that was set up to investigate the bribery scandal.

In his 28-point statement of claim, Otedola averred that by resolution of January 8, this year, the lower arm of the legislature, set up an adhoc Committee to verify and determine the actual subsidy amount made to oil companies and to also monitor the implementation of the subsidy in the country.

He claimed that Honourable Farouk later allegedly contacted and informed that his company was going to be indicted for purchasing foreign exchange from Central Bank of Nigeria without importing fuel.

The business man explained that in spite of his explanations, Farouk allegedly demanded $3million bribe to enable Zenon Oil get a clean bill of health.

He contended that Farouk resorted to persistent phone calls threatening him that his company would be included in the list of indicted oil importers and that the image and reputations of Zenon Oil would be greatly affected unless he pays the $3million.

Faced with the unrelenting barrage of intimidating phone calls, the plaintiff claimed that he became distressed and reported the unlawful demands to the security agencies.

He claimed that he secured the advice of security agents to play along by giving marked money to Farouk with a view to gather evidence for the nefarious activities.

Otedola alleged that the situation got to the peak on April 18 when the fuel subsidy probe report was submitted indicting his company.

He further claimed that Farouk called had  assured him that Zenon Oil can be delisted from the list of the indicted ones prompting him to give $620,000 marked money in two installments with $500,000 to Farouk and another $120,000 to one Boniface Emenalo on the instruction of Farouk.

With the bribe paid, the plaintiff stated that Farouk on April 24, moved a motion in the House of Representatives to delist the name of Zenon Oil from the indicted company but was still persistent in demanding for balance of $2,380,000 prompting him to report the incident to Police.

The plaintiff asserted that in spite of the on-going police investigation, the Speaker and Honourable Farouk have allegedly conspired to re-list his company among the indicted companies to embarrass him and his business corporate image.

He claimed that the purpose of re-listing Zenon Oil was to force and intimidate him to drop his complaints against Farouk.

Otedola therefore asked the court to award him N250 billion for the grave injuries done to his reputation and business image resulting in the substantial loss of goodwill and patronage of the business built over the years.

However, the Speaker and Farouk have filed an objection to hearing of the suit by an Abuja High Court claiming that it is only the Federal High Court that can adjudicate over such a matter.

Justice Peter Kekemeke of the Abuja high Court has however adjourned the case till November 23 for a substantive hearing.

Reps to probe Otedola’s N141 billion debt

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.

AUDIO:The $3 million conversation between Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola

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

Lawan: 08036513355

Otedola: (Repeats number after him)What’s the name?

Lawan: TJ

Otedola: Sorry?

Lawan: aaarrh… TJ

Otedola: Ateezay?

Lawan: TJ!

Otedola: Teezay?

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…..

How Lawan exonerated Zenon

The Chairman, House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe, while presenting the 210-paged Fuel Subsidy report to a plenary session of the House of Representatives, on the 21st of April, moved a motion of recommedation that two companies should  be removed from the list of companies indicted by the committee for receiving forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria but failed to bring in the fuel.

See the video below:

 

AMCON boss says capital market probe report is sloppy

The Managing Director of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mustafa Chike-Obi on Thursday said that the report presented to the House of Representatives by the Chairman of the ad-hoc committee that probed the near collapse of the Nigerian capital market is “extremely ill done” and “extremely sloppy”.

Mr Chike-Obi, who disclosed this while responding to questions on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, said he disagree with most of the observations the committee listed in the report.

He said: “For example he (the chairman of the probe committee, Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi) said that AMCON is a time-bomb waiting to happen. This he concludes after one hour interaction with AMCON MD. We’ve had visits from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to look into the AMCON module. I spent eight hours with them in Abuja and I was on the phone with them for an additional eight hours when they went back to Washington, asking me questions, details of what we are doing. And in their report about Nigeria they cited AMCON as one of the good things Nigeria has done.”

Presidential committee says 21 firms stole N382 billion subsidy money

Twenty one oil marketers were on Tuesday indicted for fraudulently collecting N382 billion last year in subsidy payments for fuel that was never delivered.

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee set up on the 2011 fuel subsidy scheme disclosed this while addressing journalists after submitting the final report to President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The first (step) is the recovery of the N382 billion,” Mr Imokhuede said.

The probe commissioned by Mr Jonathan is the latest in a string of investigations into fuel subsidy scheme that is rife with corruption and a massive drain on the country’s finances.

“The next is possible criminal investigation and prosecution of the OMT (oil marketing and trading companies) … also, the external auditors and any government functionaries who served will be further interviewed to determine the roles if any in the issues that were discussed.”
Mr Imokhuede did not name specific companies but some of the world’s largest oil traders import petrol into the country, along with marketers owned by some of the richest and most powerful Nigerians.

Nigeria is among the top 10 crude oil exporters in the world but due to decades of corruption and mismanagement it has to import most of its refined fuel needs.

The Federal Government scrapped payment of fuel subsidy on January 1, potentially saving the country over $6 billion. But more than a week of strikes and protests erupted across the country against the higher cost of fuel, forcing the government to partially reinstate subsidy payments.

The first probe

Following the protest against the removal of fuel subsidy, the House of Representatives constituted an ad-hoc committee chaired by Farouk Lawan to probe the the scheme earlier this year.

Mr Lawn’s committee uncovered fraudulent payments over three years of about N1.7 trillion.

But now his committee’s report is being called into question over allegations that Mr Lawan demanded, and took part of, a $3 million bribe from the Chairman of Zenon oil and Gas, Femi Otedola in order to remove his company from the list of fraudsters.

Mr Lawan’s lawyer said the lawmaker took $500,000 offered to him by Mr Otedola, but only in order to expose him, saying he disclosed the bribe to the Chairman of the House committee on Drugs/Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Adams Jagaba and handed the cash to him.

Mr Lawan’s report not only highlighted the oil marketers’ crimes but also pointed the finger at high level politicians, including Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Mr Imokhuede’s committee has focused on oil companies rather than government officials.

Another fuel scarcity looms

The Ministry of Finance has held off subsidy payments until probes into marketers have been completed, prompting anger from importers and risking fuel shortages.

The Fuel union Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) is shutting down fuel distribution facilities this week and another labour group, the Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association (DAPPMA), threatened to join them within 48 hours if government did not pay outstanding subsidies.

The subsidy is stretching Nigeria’s finances and draining oil savings. The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Lawan Ngama said in June that only had N370 billion is left to pay subsidies, out of the N888 billion in the 2012 budget.

The Central Bank has said the subsidy budget will run out well before the end of the year, which means they will need to raid savings to pay for it.

State governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum have said they will take the federal government to court for what they call “illegal” over-budget subsidy payments.

AUDIO: Telephone conversation between Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola – Part 2

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.

Otedola: ok

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

Otedola: ok

Lawan: That’s all

Otedola: Ok my brother

Lawan: Yea. Yea

Otedola: Ok. Great, Ok

Lawan: Yea

Otedola: thank you