Farouk Lawan, the beleaguered chairman of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy management, named in a N96 million bribery allegation, has opted for silence on the matter, turning down media requests for his comments.
PREMIUM TIMES has reached the lawmaker, who led investigations that turned up a gigantic fuel subsidy scam of more than N2 trillion, four times since the allegations broke out Saturday, and on each occasion, he has held back an expected swift denial of complicity.
Telephoned first on Saturday night, Mr. Lawan, who also heads the House committee on education, said he was travelling between Abuja and Kano and would be available to release a statement Sunday to avoid being misquoted.
On Sunday morning, the lawmaker answered his phone call and after establishing the motive of the inquiry, turned it off. He did not answer subsequent calls.Then a follow-up text message has not been replied since. Other calls to him on Sunday afternoon were neither answered nor returned.
Mr. Lawan is accused of exonerating an oil company involved in the fuel subsidy fraud after receiving $600,000 from the group. The allegation has unsettled the chamber that only recently barely managed to deal with corruption allegation involving the members of its committee on capital market.
The House has pledged to support full investigations into the allegation, vowing to “never take side with corruption” and promising to “stand on the side of the rule of law.”
“While we await investigation into these weighty accusations, we wish to state without equivocation that this honourable house will never take side with corruption and we will always stand on the side of the rule of law,” chairman House committee on media and public affairs, Zakari Muhammed said in a statement.
“The reason we inaugurated the adhoc committee to look into the controversial subsidy regime in the first place was to expose corruption in the sector, as such, we cannot, for whatever reason, support any underhand dealing from any quarter,” Mr. Muhammed said.
The exchange between Mr. Lawan and the company’s officials, according to the media reports, was videotaped secretly, and a clip sent to a former head of state, who in turn, delivered it to the speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal.
Mr. Tambuwal has reportedly distanced himself from the episode and has made it clear the house will not provide a cover for the misconduct.
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