August 23, 2014

$620,000 bribe scandal: AGF asks police to investigate further, clarify “grey areas”

It is yet another wrench thrown in the $620,000 bribery allegation against suspended lawmaker, Mr Farouk Lawan. The office of the Attorney General of the Federation has reportedly handed back the investigative report submitted by the police over a month ago, saying there are more grey areas to be cleared.

A quick end to the House of Representative bribery scandal will be slow in coming as police officers must go back to the drawing board and shore up their investigation before the case can go to trial.

It is expected that clarifying the “grey areas” will take up more time and result in what is described as an “unending investigation”, according to police source cited in the Vanguard report.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Gboyega Awomolo, who was appointed lead prosecutor on the case, says he is looking for a water-tight case, which would mean the much talked about and yet unseen video recordings of the bribery transactions.

Mr. Femi Otedola, chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, accused Lawan, the former head of the House of Reps ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy management, of demanding $3 million in bribes from him in order to clear his company of subsidy fraud.

Otedola further claims he has video evidence of handing $500,000 to Lawan and an additional $120,000 to Boniface Emenalo, secretary to the ad-hoc committee. He says he had captured the illicit transaction as part of a sting operation with the State Security Service.

Several reports have claimed that the video, reportedly in the hands of the SSS, was witnessed by a few top government officials, but so far it has remained locked away and police investigators are yet to witness this piece of vital, compelling evidence.

The SSS has thus far refused to provide the video or even copies of it. Another obstacle to the investigations remains the whereabouts of the $620,000 bribe.

Lawan’s counter claims to Otedola’s shocking allegation was that he had been working on a scheme of his own to expose Otedola as a fraudulent oil marketer.

Lawan had claimed to be working with the Police and says he had handed over the money, which he received in April, to a fellow lawmaker and chairman of the Committee on Narcotics, Drugs and Financial Crimes, Hon. Adams Jagaba, alongside a note explaining its origin.

Jagaba firmly denied the allegations and at one point threatened to sue Lawan for defamation. He says at the time Lawan claimed to have handed him the money and the explanatory note, 3 a.m., he had just taken his medication and was fast asleep.

On the other hand, the SSS fails to provide any support to Otedola’s claim that he had been working with them to expose Lawan. Otedola maintains that he paid the bribe using marked bills supplied him by the SSS.

So the grey areas that need clarifying and loop holes that need mending? The prosecution is demanding that the police do its due diligence by providing the elusive video footage of the crime, detailed medical report to clear Jagaba of any involvement in the matter and the serial numbers of the marked bills the SSS reportedly used in its sting operations.

The office of the AGF is also asking to see proof that Otedola had gone to the SSS with a complaint that he was being extorted by Lawan.

Clearing these grey areas are key to forming a case against Lawan and the cooperation of the SSS is vital in some of these cases. It is unclear why they have thus far failed to cooperate with the police and hand over evidence in the investigation.

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Pilot Africa News is run and edited by Chika Moses. A video journalist eager to find new, great and inspiring content in Nigeria and Africa. Got a story tip? Send a message!