The legal team representing the embattled Farouk Lawan has petitioned the acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubaka, to grant a “face-to-face confrontation” between the suspended lawmaker and his accuser, Mr. Femi Otedola.
The lawyers, Mike Ozekhome, Rickey Tarfa, Isreal Olorundare and Sam Ologunorisa – all Senior Advocates of Nigeria – filed the petition on 22 June, Punch newspapers reported.
The SANs have also called into question the existence of video footage allegedly showing the events that transpired between Farouk Lawan and Zenon Oil boss, Otedola.
Otedola, who claims he was working with the State Security Service in a sting operation to expose the lawmaker, has repeatedly made mention of the existence of video footage of the seedy transaction.
Now lawyers are challenging the “State Security Service, the police, Mr. Otedola or any other person for that matter, to produce for public viewing the video or film and call logs of the conversation between him (Lawan) and Otedola unedited and undoctored.”
Lawan’s legal counsel refuted claims that the embattled lawmaker ever visited Otedola’s house, the venue of the alleged bribery transaction, further dismissing reports that the lawmaker hid the bribe money, $250,000 on two occassions, in his pocket and inside his cap.
In a nine-page petition titled, “Honourable Farouk Lawan and Mr. Femi Otedola: When the complainant becomes the suspect”, the lawyers said Lawan’s version of events differ from Otedola’s widespread tale.
The petition states:
“The truth is that contrary to the various false publications in the press, which appear to swing the mood of the public against our client, our client maintains that whilst the report of the committee had been compiled, written and presented before the House and he was putting finishing touches to its formal debate in his hotel room at Protea Hotel, Apo, Abuja (to which he had relocated from his house to escape the unbearable pressure mounted on him by oil marketers, including Mr. Otedola), he was surprised when Otedola surfaced in the hotel on Saturday, 21, April, 2012 and called his room number.
“When our client let him in, he brought out a bundle of documents which he claimed showed that one of his oil companies, Zenon Oil, already indicted in the report, did not participate in the fuel subsidy scam.
“Our client states that, at this time, both Zenon Oil and AP Petroleum (now Forte Oil) had been both indicted based on available evidence. Mr. Otedola claimed that he was already aware of this indictment hence he decided to personally bring document to convince our client that that was not the case.”
According to the lawyers, Otedola, of his own volition backed the documents with a $250,000 payment to ensure his companies were taken off the list of fraudulent oil marketers.
The lawyers further stated: “This was the evening of Monday, April 23, a few days before the report was to be debated in the House, but few days after the final report had actually been laid before the House on April 17, 2012. Our client informed us that he had collected the money to display as exhibit that the committee had been under severe pressure and subtle threat to compromise its report.
“Our client states that Otedola called him severally and even pleaded with him to come to his house at Aso Drive, Abuja, for more of the documents which he claimed to have forgotten to bring to our client’s hotel room at Protea Hotel.
“Our client said he played along by going to Otedola’s house in the early hours of April 22, 2012 during which Otedola handed over more documents and a further sum of $250,000. Our client states that Otedola further offered to pay a total of $3m.
“As soon as he had collected the total sum of $500,000, our client immediately wrote a letter at 3.47am on April 24, 2012 to the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes titled “Offer of Monetary Inducement by Femi Otedola to influence Committee Report”.
“Our client attached the $500,000 offered by Otedola to him with a promise to bring another $2.5m.”
Adams Jagaba, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, has however denied in a statement that he ever collected any money from the beleaguered Lawan. The lawyers insist however, that Otedola initiated phone calls and deny allegations of a sting operation.