The House of Representatives member, Adams Jagaba, accused of being in possession of the $620,000 bribe cash, said his accuser, Farouk Lawan, who is at the centre of the scandal, acted in “confusion” and as an “afterthought.”
Mr. Jagaba was named in his capacity as the chairman of the House Financial Crimes committee in the bribery involving Mr. Lawan and oil marketer, Femi Otedola.
The $620,000 was to serve as an advanced payment for a $3million bribe over the indictment of Mr. Otedola’s firm, Zenon, named in federal fuel subsidy abuse.
Both men admitted paying and receiving the money respectively to expose the other.
Despite repeated denials, and appearance at a police investigation, Mr. Lawan, the former chairman of the House adhoc committee on the subsidy management, has insisted that he alerted in writing, and forwarded the bribe money to, Mr. Jagaba.
In a new position on Thursday, Mr. Jagaba called the claim “blackmail” and threatened legal action against his colleague lawmaker if the allegation continued.
“Hon. Farouk Lawan should stop this blackmail forthwith or else, I will have no option than take the appropriate legal action against him and to seek compensation befitting my status. Enough is enough!” he said in a statement.
Mr. Jagaba said he first saw the said letter that was purportedly sent to him on the pages of newspaper.
“I hereby make the following conclusions that, the embattled Hon. Farouk Lawan was rather rattled by the revelation of the bribery scandal, hence, in his confused and highly tensed state, picked up his pen and paper at an un-godly hour of 03:47am, wrote a letter (or so he claimed), as an afterthought, to the effect that he forgot to deliver the letter to the intended recipient, but rather chose to give it to a newspaper reporter and the Police Special Task Force (STF).”
Mr. Jagaba was billed to appear before the House Ethics committee Thursday. Mr. Lawan and Mr. Otedola had earlier appeared.
The chairman, House Financial Crimes Commission, picked holes in all of Mr. Lawan’s claims that he was informed of the exchange. He said he asked Mr. Lawan at the police office to state categorically whether indeed the money was sent to him, Jagaba.
“Farouk, in his opening remarks, 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,” Mr. Jagaba said at a briefing Thursday.
“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 Police 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.”
The lawmaker also faulted the details of the letter Mr. Lawan claimed to have sent, questioning why time -03:47am- was indicated on the letter, and why Mr. Lawan, a fourth term member would not properly address the letter to the proper House committee address.
“Hon. Farouk Lawan, as a 4th-termer in the House of Representatives should have been more familiar with the appropriate name of my committee which is the House committee on drugs, narcotics and financial crimes,” he said.
“On the second paragraph of the purported letter, Farouk Lawan stated that “attached is the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars only…”
“Is it practically possible to attach money of that quantity to a sheet of paper? Except if there exists a “Five-Hundred- Dollar-Bill!
“Still, on the second paragraph, that “…with another promise of Two Hundred Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars”.
“The total amount of bribe allegedly demanded is only $3 Million; but here is a Farouk quoting a balance of a whooping two hundred million, five hundred thousand dollars after collecting $500,000. The mathematics just did not add-up here!
“An official letter written about an issue of this magnitude should have, in my opinion, appeared on the official Letter Headed Paper of the ad hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Investigation or at least, Hon. Farouk Lawan’s Letter Headed Paper.
“There was no acknowledgement of receipt of the letter purportedly written to my office.
“Forget that the letter was hand-written (because it was), but it should have carried the stamp and/or signature of receipt and date received. But there was nowhere on the entire letter, both the copy presented to the Police 5TF and the copy published on page 6 of the Leadership Newspaper of 14th June 2012 that acknowledgement of receipt of the letter appeared.”
Mr Lawan could not be reached Thursday as he did not answer or return calls to his mobile telephone.