The release of audio recordings of purported telephone conversations between suspended chairman of the House of Representatives adhoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Managemet, Farouk Lawan, and Zenon Oil boss, Femi Otedola, is not enough to convict the embattled lawmaker.
The Nigeria Police Force says the recording are not enough evidence to prosecute the lawmaker and has urged Nigerians “not to be carried away” by the incriminating recordings of purported phone conversations.
Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, stated in an interview that the two recordings, in which voice purported to be that of Lawan and Otedola were heard discussing the terms of the $3 million bribe, would get nowhere in court.
Mba demanded for the release of the full audio visual component that would show the bribery transaction in its entirety.
He noted that rushing to court with evidence obtained so far will amount to a waste of money and resources in court.
“You just don’t rush to court for the fun of charging people to court. That is why courts are congested and that is why we don’t make progress. It does not make sense. It is unproductive; it is a waste of public resource.”
The Special Task Force unit investigating the massive bribery allegations levelled by Otedola against Lawan have, since the start of their proceedings, placed great importance on finding the $620,000 said to have been collected by Lawan and committee secretary, Boniface Emenalo.
The team argues that finding the bribes collected will be key evidence in the matter. As to the recordings, there are reports that the public will see and hear more of them.
The Nigerian Tribune reported that Otedola is set to released 17 more audio tapes and six video tapes of what transpired during the “cash for clearance” bribery scandal.
However, Channels Television, the station that obtained and aired both recordings, has not said the recordings it received were from Otedola and Lawan and his legal team continue to deny that the recordings are real.
Mike Ozekhome (SAN), representing the embattled lawmaker, described the second audio recording as “nothing short of a comedy” and said he had listened to the recording with his client who claimed “that is not my voice”.
Meanwhile, Mba has said the House’ investigation into the matter, led by its Ethics and Privileges Committee, was fine “as long as they don’t do anything that could jeopardise what we are doing”.
His statements come after Otedola answered a summons by the ethics committee who sought to question him on the matter. They were met with a brick wall, however, as the Zenon chairman has refused to be interrogated by the committee, saying he will take the case to the public.
“Anything done in the darkness will come out in the lightness,” Otedola told reporters.