Farouk Lawan, the former House of Representatives member, who bagged a 7-year jail term on Tuesday was a household name inside the green chamber of the National Assembly.
After eight years of legal tussle, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court finally passed its judgement in the bribery scandal involving Lawan popularly known as ‘Mr Integrity’.
Facts To Know About Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola on bribe scandal
Lawan was jailed after being found guilty of soliciting bribe from billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, during the probe of fuel subsidy in 2012.
Otedola had accused Lawan of making a demand of $3 million for Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, his company, to be delisted from companies being probed.
The Scandal/Road to Prison
In 2012, Lawan chaired the House of Representatives committee that investigated the Nigerian government’s fuel subsidies. The committee was set up in the wake of nationwide strikes in Nigeria after President Goodluck Jonathan removed fuel subsidy. Lawan’s committee said in its report that it discovered a lot of fraudulent activities. It said a whooping $6.8million was paid for petroleum products subsidy that were never delivered. Lawan, got enmeshed in bribery scandal in the course of its investigation of companies indicted in the fuel subsidy scandal. In a meeting with billionaire oil magnate Femi Otedola,
Lawan was seen on tape receiving $500,000 in order to cancel the former’s name from the report before presenting the report to the House. While the bribery scandal did not only dent his anti-corruption stance, it also affected his chance of returning to the green chamber in 2015. In the course of the trial, Otedola had insisted that the operation (to give bribe to Lawan) was done with the full knowledge of the DSS in the bid to “catch a corrupt politician in the act”. While Lawan admitted to receiving the amount, he however insisted it was meant to expose the businessman, and to convince the House of the pressure its committee investigating fuel subsidy fraud, faced. For 8 years, Lawan was a regular visitor in courtrooms to prove his ‘innocence’ of the allegations leveled against him. However, the trial judge, Justice Angella Otaluka convicted Lawan on three-count charge on Tuesday.
Telephone conversation between duo released
In the recording, the voice said to be Otedola’s asks how the outstanding bribe money should be delivered as Lawan is unavailable.
The audio conversation started with the MD/CEO, Zenon Oil and Gas, Femi Otedola saying he did not want to take the money to his house. “I don’t want to take it to my house; it is a lot of money” he said.
Then the lawmaker replied that he was on his way out and by the time he returned, he would have to head to the chambers of the House of Representatives.
Otedola then asked, if he should reschedule his planned trip to China, but Farouk said no and offered to bring in a third person to collect the bribe.
The lawmaker gave the phone numbers 08036513355, naming the person as TJ.
Acknowledging the transaction, Farouk responded affirmatively to Otedola’s remark that if he received the initial payment, then there would be a balance of $2.5 million, saying “that’s right” while he said, he would be calling the third person to ensure the collection of the initial payment.
The conversation verbatim
Otedola: How are you sir? I don’t want to bring it to my house
Lawan: Oh, you would take it to your house
Otedola: No, I don’t want to bring it to my house; it is a lot of money
Lawan: err… so where? Because I’m rushing to the… they are at the airport now?
Otedola: ? Yes they are in the airport in the aircraft
Lawan: Well, I can’t come over now and before they can come over now unless I send somebody to but
I can’t because…by the time they come I should be…I have a lot of things to do myself
Otedola: Is there anybody you think I can give it to or maybe I should just postpone my trip to China till tomorrow?
Lawan: No, no it’s ok…I’ll arrange it with someone…let me give you his number 080
Otedola: hold on hold on
Otedola: (Repeats number after him)What’s the name?
Lawan: aaarrh… TJ
Lawan: No, Tj
Otedola: OK. So I will give him the balance; that is erm… 2.5 million dollars, yea?
Lawan: that’s right. Hold on. I’m calling him to be sure his phone is on…..