BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA — There were indications in Abuja, yesterday, that the $620, 000 bribe money allegedly given by Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Oil to Mr Farouk Lawan, erstwhile Chairman of the Subsidy Probe Committee and his Secretary, Boniface Emenalo, may have been shared with the money already in circulation, while a new set of cash is being contributed for Lawan.
This discovery came even as Lawan kept to one aspect of his bail condition, which is to make a physical appearance before the Special Task Force investigating the $3 million bribery scandal. He appeared at the Force Headquarters, yesterday, at about noon and left at about 1. 25 p.m. without the $620,000 which he assured the Task Force he would come with.
Vanguard gathered that though Farouk promised to come with the money which he said was kept with the Chairman, House Committee of Financial Crimes, attempts by the Police to get across to the Chairman, Financial Crimes to ascertain Farouk’s claim and collect the money proved difficult as he and some members have become unreachable.
Though sources told Vanguard that Farouk pleaded for more time to enable him come with the money, yesterday, there is apprehension that the particular ‘marked money’ may not be traced if the particulars are unavailable by the other security agency involved.
Attempts by the Police to reach the chairman and members of the Financial Crimes Committee of the House shortly after the Special Session held last Friday, proved late as the House dispersed immediately their session ended while invitation to the members of the committee is yet to be acknowledged or complied with.
SSS’ reluctance to assist
Moreover, Vanguard gathered that the attitude of the State Security Service, SSS, in the entire investigation is giving the police concern as it has remained tight-lipped in either making the serial numbers of the so-called marked money available to the Police or letting the Police know why they handed out such a huge amount to Otedola to give to Farouk without arresting Farouk at the point of collection.
The question being asked by many officers and observers is why the SSS is not forthcoming in assisting Police get to the root of this matter. Farouk has accepted he collected the money as seen in the video, just like Emenalo. In fact, Emenalo from the video clip, collected $50,000 bunch in two installments and put them in his two Babariga pockets, after earlier collecting $20,000.
A senior Police officer told Vanguard that “in any sting operation of the magnitude we are talking about, Farouk should have been arrested with the money. I am sorry to say, the thing was bungled at that point except for the video and audio evidence as well as Farouk and Emenalo’s acceptance that they collected the money.”
When contacted, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, confirmed that “Hon. Lawan appeared before Police investigations at Force Headquarters“ in compliance with one of his conditions for bail. That in itself is an indication that investigation is still ongoing and indeed we are investigating the matter.”
He, however, appealed to the media to avoid speculative reports on the matter so as not to jeopardize the investigation, noting that at the appropriate time, “we will issue a comprehensive report on the findings of the investigations. At the moment, we don’t want comments that will jeopardize the investigations.”