$3 million bribery: Otedola refuses to speak to Reps, insists hearing on allegations must be public

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.

“I strongly believe that the interest of the public will not be best served if this investigation is held in-camera,” he said.

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.

Read Mr Otedola speech here.

Video: How Farouk Lawan asked House of Reps to remove Otedola’s companies from probe report

The Chairman, House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe, Farouk Lawan, 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.

The companies, Synopsis Enterprises Limited and  Zenon Petroluem and Gas Limited were removed from the list via a unianimous decision by the House.

According to the list, Zenon is alleged to have collected the sum of $232, 975, 385.13 while Synopsis Enterprises collected $51, 449, 977.47 for the year 2010 and refused to import any oil.

Both companies belong to billionaire and oil mogul, Femi Otedola.

The startled deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who was presiding over the plenary asked the chairman of the probe committee that, “Honorable farouk, is this recommendation coming from your committee?”

And Mr Lawan answered in the affirmative.

However, Mr. Otedola on the 11th of June, in an interview with a national newspaper alleged that Mr Lawan had demanded a $3million bribe from him, days to his (Lawan) presenation of the report, so that his two companies will be removed from the list of indicted companies.

Mr Otedola in a sting operation, allegedly coordinated by the State Security Service (SSS), gave the lawmaker, the sum of $620,000 in part-payment for the bribe.

Mr Lawan in a swift reaction on Sunday, denied accepting any bribe from the oil mogul.

He however revealed the following day, that he accepted the money in ‘another’ sting operation involving the police authority.

The House of Representatives, which has been on a one week recess on Wednesday, called short the break for an emeergency plenary session, to hold on Friday (15th June 2012).

The House is expected to make its stand known on the scandal during the emergency session.