Hon. Adams Jagaba, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Drugs/Narcotics and Financial Crimes, has threatened to sue Mr. Farouk Lawan for “blackmail” over ongoing allegations made by Lawan that Jagaba has custody of the $620,000 bribe.
The bribery scandal, currently rocking the House, is still under investigation. Police have for weeks interrogated Lawan, the suspended chairman of the House committee on fuel subsidy management, who was accused of demanding millions of dollars in bribes from an oil marketer indicted in his committee’s probe report.
Earlier in June, Femi Otedola, chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd., accused Lawan of demanding $3 million in bribes from him in order to clear his oil firm from the list of fraudulent oil marketers.
Otedola said Lawan insisted on the bribes even though he had stated repeatedly that Zenon had no part in the Petroleum Subsidy Fund scheme.
The oil magnate said, however, that he had agreed to pay the bribes as part of a sting operation with the State Security Service in order to expose him. Otedola alleged that he paid $500,000 to Lawan and another $120,000 to committee secretary, Boniface Emenalo.
Both men, Lawan and Emenalo, were arrested and made counter claims that they had been offered the bribes and had only taken it in a bid to expose the dirty oil marketers.
Lawan said the collective $620,000, which police believe is key evidence in the bribery allegation case, was handed over to Jagaba alongside a letter explaining the bribery attempt.
However, when questioned by police, the Kaduna state lawmaker denied that his colleague ever gave him the money or the letter.
Jagaba, first in a statement and then later on in an interrogation, has claimed his innocence in the bribery scandal.
He said, “I cannot and shall never be involved in an individualistic act that runs antithetical to national interest.
“Lawan should stop this blackmail forthwith or else, I will have no option but to take the appropriate legal action against him and to seek compensation befitting my status.
“Enough is enough.”
Jagaba said Lawan must have been “rattled” and “confused” because the alleged letter, written at 3:47 a.m., was never delivered to the intended recipient.
He said Lawan “chose to give it to a newspaper reporter and the Police Special Task Force” instead, the Punch reported.
Jagaba said he only saw the letter after it was published by the Leadership on June 14, three days after Otedola had gone to Thisday news with an exclusive of the bribery allegations.
The Punch revealed that the Special Task Force investigative team had on Wednesday arranged for a meeting between Jagaba and Lawan.
Jagaba said during the hour long confrontation that Lawan “stated that he reported the matter to me because of my position as the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes and not because I was involved in the bribery saga.
“He also told the police that he involved me in the matter because he thinks that that would enhance his case in court.
“We faced each other before the STF. I then put the question: ‘Hon. Farouk, did you give me $500,000 or any money for that matter?’
“This was a question the outspoken Farouk could not answer. He kept mum till I left.”
Jagaba said he also appeared before the House committee on Ethics and Privileges on Thursday where he was quizzed by the Gambo Lawan-led panel on the matter.
He admitted telling the panel that “I have no knowledge of such transactions and I am not in custody of any money or any other exhibit given to me by Farouk or any other person.”