Farouk Lawan was on Friday suspended from the House of Representatives over the $3 million “cash for clearance” bribery allegation alleged by oil magnate, Femi Otedola.
Lawmakers on Friday morning convened for an emergency session to deliberate on how best to address the scandal.
Lawan, chairman of the House’s ad-hoc committee that led a probe into the fuel subsidy management, has been accused by Otedola of demanding and receiving bribes in order to clear his firms of any involvement in the massive N1.7 trillion fuel subsidy fraud.
Otedola alleges that he paid $500,000 to Lawan and another $120,000 to Otedola to ensure that his firms – Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited and Synopsis Enterprises, both of which he insists were not beneficiaries of the PSF scheme – would not be included in the report.
The oil magnate claimed he had gone along with the extortion as part of a sting operation orchestrated by the State Security Service. He paid using marked bills and caught the dirty deal on spy camera.
His companies, both of which were indicted in the original report of taking forex from the CBN without importing product, were later cleared after Lawan moved to amend the list on 21 April, saying they were found not guilty of fraud upon “further investigation”.
House to investigate Otedola’s firms
With this massive bribery scandal coming to light, lawmakers passed a motion to reverse its unanimous decision to remove Otedola’s firms from the list of 15 companies indicted of fraud in the report.
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, Channels Television wrote in their report.
The representatives also showed their support for House Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, warning against any move by the executive arm of government to intimidate lawmakers through underhanded tactics.
Representative, Samson Osagie, likened this bribery scandal to the Watergate scandal that rocked the White House during US President, Richard Nixon’s tenure.
He hinted that the scandal was being used as a means of discrediting the report, derailing justice and manipulating the legislature in order to protect the powerful officials indicted in the damning report.
Implement the report anyway
Despite the implications of the bribery scandal, lawmakers stand behind the report and urge anti-graft agencies to ensure full implementation of the recommendations it held.
Tambuwal called on 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.
Meanwhile a new committee chairman, John Enoh (PDP, Cross River) has been appointed to replace Lawan, who is currently on suspension and still in police custody.