How PDP scrambled to cover up $620,000 bribery scandal

An intervention by the top echelon of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) halted a planned inquiry into the USD620,000 bribery scam involving oil billionaire, Femi Otedola, and chairman, House of Representatives ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy management, Farouk Lawan, lawmakers familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

It also disrupted plans to exhibit the $620,000 cash on the floor of the House during plenary.

The mediation came after Mr. Lawan intimated the leadership of the scandal, and a possible legislative investigation was considered more than a month after the exchange took place, the members told PREMIUM TIMES.

The party hierachy reportedly warned against any move by the House that would “embarrass” Mr. Otedola, a well-known PDP financier with links running throughout the governing party’s leadership structure and the Federal Government.

Our sources said after Mr. Lawan received intelligence that he had been trapped, he tried hard to move ahead of the Otedola camp by tabling the cash before plenary, in what some sources describe as a last gasp effort to save his integrity.

On the last day of plenary, before the House went on recess, the embattled lawmaker reportedly begged the leadership of the House to allow him raise a motion detailing how he was offered bribe by Mr. Otedola, and how he received the cash to demonstrate to Nigerians that his committee came under tremendous pressure during its assignment.

Mr. Lawan, those close to him say, had also planned to tell his colleagues that he kept quiet for a while about the bribe because he envisaged a controversy which might overshadow the significance of his committee’s report.

Our sources said the PDP chairman, Bamanga Tukur, got wind of Mr. Lawan’s plan, and he quickly contacted him and the leadership of the House, requesting them not to do anything that would bring the ruling party and one of its major donors into disrepute.

Mr. Lawan was assured the party would wade into the matter and resolve it in a manner that would be satisfactory to all parties.

The ad hoc committee chairman agreed, but discreetly tried to leak the matter to the media, our sources say.

The Otedola camp, which enjoys the support of the State Security Service and the presidency, soon became aware of Mr. Lawan’s plan. It moved very fast, leaking the story to select newspapers ahead of the embattled lawmaker.

Farouk Lawan’s regrets

“One thing Farouk Lawan regrets very seriously today is that he listened to the PDP and failed to lay the bribe before the House as planned,” a top official of the House said. “He regrets listening to the party and sees that obedience as his major undoing. He feels the PDP colluded with Otedola to undo him, placing him on the defence.”

The PDP’s intervention and directive seems to underline the claim by some Nigerians that the ruling party tolerate  corruption especially with its name featuring in some of the major corruption scams in Nigeria’s history.

However, on Tuesday, the party responded swiftly denying it played any role in Farouk Lawan bribery scandal.

“No such thing ever happened,” spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, told PREMIUM TIMES.”The party is not aware of that, and the party does not condone corruption.”

The blame game

The claim by the lawmakers and the party’s denial, appears a continuation of the regime of blame and counter blame that have characterized the scandal since it broke last week.

Mr. Lawan and Mr. Otedola have accused each other of being the initiator of the bribery scheme, while they view their own roles as merely helping to expose fraud.

Mr. Lawan has denied seeking or receiving gratification to exonerate Mr. Otedola’s oil firm, Zenon Petroleum & Gas Ltd, amongst the list of indicted companies marked for a likely government’s criminal action.

He maintained the same position in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.

The lawmaker however admits receiving the USD600,000 from Mr. Otedola, not as “bribe”, but as an evidence that the committee came under intense pressure, and also to buttress his claim that the business tycoon had sought to influence the committee’s findings with bribe.

In details earlier made available to the media, Mr. Lawan said he reported the matter to the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, and the chairman, House committee on Financial Crimes and Narcotics, Adams Jagaba.

Questions, questions and more questions

That explanation claims the amount received from Mr. Otedola – USD620,000 – was sent to Mr. Jagaba as an “attachment” to a letter explaining the businessman’s fraudulent move.

Not minding the weighty allegation, Mr. Jagaba, a second term member, repeatedly turned down media requests for comments.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted him on Tuesday afternoon, he was polite, but again declined to respond to our questions.

“I am sorry, I respect PREMIUM TIMES, but I cannot say anything on this,” he said before discontinuing the call.

In part, the shock and the scale of the scandal, and lawmakers’ frustration at its damning effect on the House, have seen many members avoiding comments, and where they speak, they do so anonymously. Those who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES refused to be named.

After being headlined for series of corruption cases, the latest crisis has ignited fury and many lawmakers are said to view Mr. Lawan’s purported reaction after receiving the money naively under video glare, as an afterthought initiated in the wake of realizing he had been nailed.

“A principal officer who watched the video said the content will make anyone be ashamed to be a lawmaker,” one member said.

Concerns have been about receiving the cash in person at the house of someone Mr. Lawan said “pressurized” his committee to pay bribe.

Questions have also been raised on why it took long for the incident to be reported as indicated on the letters, and why the money had been lodged with an individual – Mr. Jagaba, instead of a law enforcement agency or the Central Bank.

Mr. Tambuwal’s sealed lips

The money exchanges took place between April 21 and 24, 2012. Mr. Lawan said his letter to the police was on May 9, although he contacted Mr. Jagaba on April 24.

Our sources however say when the leadership was eventually informed, and a probe planned, the effort was blocked by the party which ordered against hurting Mr. Otedola’s interest since he supported the party, PREMIUM TIMES was informed in separate interviews.

Imam Imam, who speaks for the speaker of the House, declined comments on whether the speaker was in the know about the deal. House spokesperson, Zakari Muhammed, too could not be reached. His phones failed to connect calls.

The party’s role in the matter seems to back this website’s earlier report citing security sources who disclosure the political underlines of the bribery, and how Mr. Otedola may have represented government’s interest.

Known to have close ties with President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Otedola made huge donations for the president’s 2011 election campaign, and has been accused of being one of the major beneficiaries of a largely fraudulent fuel subsidy scheme, although he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The PDP however said while it backed the House in its “oversight” functions, it did not mean it supported corruption.

“Farouk Lawan is trying to explain itself. The party will wait for the findings of the National Assembly and the law enforcement on the matter. The party does not condone corruption,” party spokesperson, Mr. Metuh said.

 

 


DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD:ADVERTISE HERE! CALL 07088095401


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • Socjurist

    I am very happy, it happens to Farouk Lawan, whom I heard, like most PDPcontestants rigged their ways into the various offices they occupied, since 1999-2011.

    Indeed, this episode is the best global exposure of bribery and corruption, which most Nigerian politicians, public/civil servants and private employees are known for.

    Am sure, Nigeria’s next rating on the list of the Transparency International will change. I dey laf.!

  • KenMani

    The Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani who are accusing President Goodluck Jonathan of doing nothing about corruption are now so desperate to cover up the massive corruption of their own – Speaker Tambuwaal and Rep Farouk Lawan that they are now using media controlled by them including Premium Times to layout childish rubbish like this article to the public. Shame on the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani who contribute nothing to the national cake but VVF, corruption, fraud, murder and destruction. They must be totally disgraced before they are shamefully kicked out of Nigeria. Nothing less will do.

    • Aminu B.

      Are you a PIG? What has that got to do with religion and ethnicity, please wake up you are supposed to be educated and exposed!

    • InnerVoice

      @KenMani, what makes you less corrupt that them? based on my observation, there so much hate and sentiment consuming you, that you cannot even see the bigger picture. Let me remind you that the adverse effect of corruption, nepotism, terrorism, tribalism and all other “isms” is not a LTD but a PLC. It affects us all. P.S. with all the hate consuming you, you are no different from the very Hausa-fulani you so much despise.

  • Hayatu

    Trust Nigerians, N1trillion fuel subsidy corruption scandal and N155billion stolen by GEJ and his men is being forgotten for N96 million. Shamelessly, some people have turned to sectionalism.

  • Naijaa

    Magic, Magic and more magic Nigeria a magic country lead by magicians

    • Okikiola Beckley

      An asylum run by inmates.

  • Oluwalogbon24

    Patricia Eteh should heave a sigh of relief that her accuser-in-chief and Head of the Integrity Group is in fact a bigger thief.

  • Habu Rimi

    KenMani why your too much hatered for HausaFulani.if at all you nare educated, youare an educated illitrate that have not travel beyound your trival enclave in order for you to appreciate other Nigerins.

  • Gamboatose

    Is. Faruk Lawan and his committee Members to be blamed alone for receiving bribe from Mr Otedola or Mr Otedola who offered the bribe to the Committee to divert attention of Nigerians from the outcome of the Committee work?.I pray Nigerians would not accept this dirty game. Government shold either implement the committee report and other semilar reports or leave everything for God to decide for them (Nigerians)

  • Muss

    kenmani, you are at it again, your father did not work for the oil you are claiming. it God given.

    Uwaka

  • bonifacejoe

    Otedolising Faroukism, the country goes on.

  • Woleadeyemi

    JUST TODAY TWO CHINESE FOOTBALL OFFICIALS ARE BEING JAILED OVER BRIBE—FOOTBALL.(football.thestar.com.my)CAN THIS HAPPEN IN NIGERIA ?

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    I am still wondering why would Honourable Farouk Lawan demand and recieve bribes of S600,000 dollars from oil cabal-Femi Otedola.But now with this revelation that Honourable Lawan had attempt to display the bribes of S600,000 before the floor of the House of reps but which PDP leadership intevened and prevented.

    Anytime any member of axis of corruption is caught,the criminals always rally round the suspect-criminal and salvaging him and EFCC too is like an arm of criminal-association-PDP as PDP would just stand by idle not letting justice prevail.Untill there is revolution to cleanse out the widespread corruptibles in governance,Nigeria is caged by PDP-oil-magnate cabals,looting,thieving and embezzling our national commonwealths.

    Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan,
    Writes From Canada.

  • this scandal will allow GEJ and his cohorts get away witht he largest fraud on the country scot free. I find it hard to believe that Lawan allowed himself get roped this easily, perhaps he too is in on this. Its just hos reputation that will suffer but think of how much he will make if indeed he is on on this, sounds impossible abi

  • Ahmadybello

    Can thé former President Obasanjo kindly extend the scope of his description beyond the members of the National assembly pls. After all a bitter tree can only bear bitter fruits.