“Please remember this thing we are doing, keep it to yourself,” a voice, purportedly that of Hon. Farouk Lawan tell the other party in the phone conversation, alleged to be Femi Otedola, chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd.
Channels Television, on Tuesday, released the second part of the incriminating phone conversation which purpotedly took place between former chairman of the House of Reps adhoc committee on Fuel Subsidy and the oil magnate, Otedola.
Lawan has repeatedly denied claims that he demanded bribes from Otedola to clear his oil firm from a list of fraudulent oil marketers who had taken forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria without importing any product.
Otedola who made the shocking allegations in June said though he contended that his firm had no part in the Petroleum Subsidy Fund scheme, Lawan had refused to listen telling him to “play ball” to the tune of $3 million.
In his counter accusations, the embattled lawmaker from Kano state denied allegations, saying instead that Otedola had offered the dollars and he had simply accepted it to expose him.
However, the lawmaker did urge the House during a 24 April review of the probe report published on days earlier, that the report be amended to exempt Otedola’s firm, Zenon from the list of fraudulent oil marketers.
Lawan had told the House that his committee had conducted “further investigations” and had found Zenon innocent of any wrong doing. Otedola claims the lawmaker only did that after receiving $500,000 in bribes from him, a small percentage of the $3 million demanded.
The beleaguered lawmaker’s persistent refusal that he is not guilty in the “cash for clearance” scandal takes another hit with the release of yet another audio recording that has Lawan purportedly asking Otedola to keep their activities under wraps.
“Please, this thing that we are doing, keep it to yourself, otherwise you will make it difficult for us,” a voice purported to be Lawan’s said.
The man on the other end of the conversation, Otedola, it is assumed, replies his understanding.
Lawan’s warning was to ensure that no one got wind of his committee’s plan to push for an amendment that will vindicate Otedola’s firm. He told Otedola that another colleague had already heard word of it and warned that if Otedola didn’t keep a tight lid on their seedy plans together, others might suspect.
“Yeah. 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 compromised. And you know that is something that errr…
“And if my colleagues get to hear about it, I won’t be able to convince them. So keep it to yourself,” the voice said to be that of Lawan said.
“Let it not be like anybody is aware of what is happening. If anybody asks you, simply say that this thing, you know from your records you have all the records and you have made a case to the committee. You have sent your documents to the committee. It is left for the committee to decide what to do. Please keep it that way.”
An enthusiastic voice, said to be Otedola’s, was heard on the other line muttering his agreement with Lawan’s coaching in deception and agreed to do exactly as he was told.
Lawan said the element of surprise would lend some credibility to his amendment motion when it is brought before the House. Word of “Femi getting his way around” will make the job of vindicating Zenon more difficult, he said.
The pair banter for a while. Otedola refers to Lawan as “my brother” and eagerly explains that he had no part in leaking any information of their dealings together.
This new phone conversation made public by Channels Television today comes barely 24 hours after the news station released a separate phone conversation, which we deduce took place after the conversation above.
In the first audio recording released yesterday, we hear the pair talking about how best to convey the remainder of the bribes, a whopping $2.5 million, from Otedola to Lawan. The lawmaker could be heard saying he was rushing to Chambers, but gave the information of a third party, TJ, who could go to the airport where the massive sum was being kept and retrieve it.
Lawan’s legal team were swift to react to the recordings, calling it “nothing but a caricature” that was “highly edited and terribly doctored”. One of the lawyers representing the suspended lawmaker, Mike Ozokhome (SAN), said in an interview with the television station that the “doctored” recordings were released simply to tarnish the already damaged image of Hon. Farouk Lawan and cast him in a bad light.
His legal team can expect more recordings like this, according to Punch newspapers, who reported that sources are set to leak some 16 or more similar audio and video recording to the television and newspaper houses.
See Ozokhome’s response to yesterday’s audio recording below: