By Denrele Animasaun from London
“Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”-George Orwell
I must admit I was not aware of Farouk Lawan until the buzz of the recent scandal. The scandal, I will come to that later. I found out that the gentle man was a PDP member in 1999, and again in 2003 and 2007. In fact, I was piqued by his legislative interests as “Appropriation, Information and Education. He is also considered a strong future candidate for future governorship of Kano State.
In the hallow corridors of the House of Representatives, he is seen as a big man. The Chairman of the House Ad hoc Committee Monitoring the Fuel Subsidy regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan waltzed around; calling the shots and was the man you needed to reckon with when it comes to matters arising from the fuel subsidy probe.
So back to the scandal , Femi Otedola, a businessman had previously been besmirched with his alliance with Aliko Dangote over breach of trust in their line of business . Insisting that he had nothing to hide or fear over what had happened, Otedola maintained if he was in the wrong he would not have involved the security agencies in the first instance.
In a reference to the strong denials made by Lawan since the scandal became public, Otedola stated: “When he (Lawan) demanded the bribe, I called the agencies. That is because I had nothing to hide. When the bribe was paid, why did he not call and report it to the agencies if he had nothing to, (do with it).”
So Otedola has come forward to accuse Lawan of extorting money from him to remove Zenon’s name from the list of companies that collected foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without importing petroleum products. But Lawan said it was Otedola who initiated the bribe offer. Someone is not telling the truth.
This sensation is worthy of a Hollywood box office hit. Otedola had revealed how Lawan and Emenalo had collected $620,000 from him, as part payment of $3 million, in a sting operation masterminded by security agencies. He narrated how Lawan had allegedly approached him a few days before the report was to be tabled on April 18 before the House, demanding money so that Zenon’s name would be kept out of the report. Otedola also said the ad hoc committee’s secretary, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, collected $120,000 on Lawan’s behalf.
So pardon me, the secret service were involved! Yes, you heard me. So this must be so thorough and above board. This is the stuff of a novel. This is a grand scale accusation and what is so galling is not the amount but the fact that, we have all known that a lot of money changes hands but the fact that this information can be freely offered in the public domain, is suspect. More so if the sting was to deliver the head of a seasoned member of the House of Representatives, is highly suspect.
What is the motive? Who is to gain from the expose is what needs to be established.
It is a known fact that there is grand scale corruption in high places, it is emblematic of how the bad and the not so great Nigerian business and political leaders are well-known for. In civilised society, and I use this in its real sense, you should be asking why then is Otedola’s company involved directly with Lawan ?
Especially in his official capacity. And did Otedola who claimed to have carried out sting acting with full blessing of the Secret Service? Was any deal made with the Secret Service? Or did Otedola, as a concerned citizen, go to the Secret Service because Lawan had ask for a bribe?
Lawan was caught on tape taking bribe from an oil marketer, Femi Otedola. To doctor the panel’s report. If this is proven, then it is a miracle that Nigeria is making stride to rid the country of corruption! If this is so, then most politicians should be prepared for the SSS to make arrest and enquiries into the whole of the House of Representatives, then the Cabinet, then it will cover a lot of grounds that they may have to call in foreign services to get a grasp of what has been a known secret that corruption and bribery oils the cogs of every aspect of most Nigerians’ lives.
Lawan, who had hitherto denied that neither he nor any member of the committee collected money from any of the oil marketers, told reporters in Abuja that he actually collected $500,000 from Otedola, whom he accused of offering him the money to influence the probe panel’s report. Emenalo admitted collecting money on Lawan’s behalf but said Otedola offered him $100,000. Lawan has denied (?) All the evidence that it is baseless and it is motivated by ulterior motives.
We expect that this would follow the due process as the House refer the matter to its Committee on Ethics and Privileges for probe. We also hear that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, has promised that the Federal Government will take appropriate action when it receives the report of investigation into the allegation.
I really do not think the average Nigerian will hold its breathe and judging from the opinions of many, they are not surprised at the large amount of money nor are they interested in the intricacies of the scandal.The people have lost faith in the system that the truth will ever surface.
The subsidy probe will be rubbished and nothing will come out of it. The marketers will come out smelling roses.