Denrele  Animasaun from  London

“A week is a long time in politics.”- Harold Wilson (British Politician and Prime Minister. 1916-1995)

Farouk Lawan, you know the House of Representatives Subsidy Probe panel Chairman (who since last week, has been   stripped off his post). Please keep up, because it is going   to get rather messy. Last week, the member of the House of   Representatives was accused by Otedola that Lawan and the ad hoc committee’s secretary, Boniface Emenalo, collected $120,000 on Lawan’s behalf.

In all, allegedly $620,000 was paid to Lawan as part payment of $3 million Lawan requested. This extortion racket seems to have been initiated, well actually allegedly repeatedly solicited by Lawan in order that Otedola’s company, Zenon’s name would be kept out of the report.

For a good part of last week Lawan, vehemently denied that neither he nor any member of the committee collected money from any of the oil marketers. As the story gathered   speed, he retracted   his story and then told reporters in Abuja that he actually collected $500,000 from Otedola.

Then he confessed   that he indeed collected the money and   was holding on to it as evidence against Otedola.  Such overwhelming evidence that any right   thinking citizen would have reported to the police immediately.

Farouk told the police that when he discovered that the whole plot was a set up, he collected the money and handed it over to the Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes and assured the Special Task Force that he would return the money intact to the police. But the CP, Ali Amodu led STF is not buying the argument even as the House Committee Chairman on Financial Crimes would be invited to come with the marked money allegedly given to Farouk, to corroborate his statement.

The average Nigerian was not perturbed that by Thursday last week that Lawan had more or less admitted what he did. They did not bat an eyelid   when he offered to hand in the money to the Police.

Lawan then, handed himself to the Police sans loot! Farouk Lawan has refused to release the cash to the STF. The detectives from the Special Task Force (STF) investigating the $3 million bribe scandal went   on to conduct an hour search at Lawan’s Apo Legislators’ quarters in Abuja.

Rep. Farouk Lawan

In  the  presence of  his   wife  and  children  they  searched but found  a paltry $10,000  which , the  police said, was  part  of  the  serialised  money. For good measure, they seized his passport. Also, they searched the house of the Secretary of the Committee, Boniface Emenalo, who was alleged to have collected $120,000 as part of the bribe money.

But according to those in the know, the real reason why Farouk was delaying to honour the police invitation is because he can’t produce the “actual dollars” which he has already spent and if he produces another $620,000 other than the original one he would have betrayed many Nigerians who trusted him.

In the   meantime ,the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, and three Commissioners of Police on Thursday questioned  top  ranking members of the House of Representatives  and   any other  persons  in  the   role  of  the   extortion  scam.

There was another story about the money. So where is the money?  Show us the money! That   substantial portion of the   money has been stolen by person or persons unknown. But the so called top ranking people   have   promised that this scandal will not go to ground. I implore   anyone not to attempt to   hold their   breaths because this story will run and run. Farouk Lawan plans to contest for Kano State governor in 2015 and many believes he needs a financial war chest for the contest.

Lawan in an attempt to turn the case against him approached members of the House’s Committee on Narcotics and Financial Crimes to appeal to them to tender the money he collected on-camera as evidence of an attempt to bribe him. But the committee members refused to be used, claiming that they could only have agreed if he had come to them before the scandal blew open.

Meanwhile, Lawan’s commitee members have expressed disappointment in the fact that he could collect such a huge sum without putting them in the picture.  Are   they  embittered  that  they  did  not get  their own  share  or  that   if they  had  they   may have hushed  the  scandal? We  are more inclined   to   guess  that he  may  have  stepped  on  a  few  toes  and  not   share   his   ill proceeds.

This   development makes the Fuel subsidy redundant. Ordinary  Nigerians   took   to  the  streets to  protest   and  to  learn that  the  1%  are  pilfering  on  a grand   scale. They   profess  that   the   country  is   broke  and  they  need  the  savings  to  provide   and  update   facilities . We  were told   that the government was broke and the masses were told to make sacrifices. So  all the riots and demonstrations did not achieve much as an increase of about 60% was still sustained.

A source said that the scope of investigation has been expanded as a result of new discoveries about other bribes, adding: “We are now talking about huge sums of money given to the probe committee and some of the oil marketers that were extorted have gone to the court to depose to affidavits to reveal everything”.

Home and abroad, Nigerians have become spectators in the macabre spectacle of crime against the majority. We should, as a people, do more individually and collectively   to shift our mindset.  Though   I   know  it   may  sound  rich   from the   comfort  of  my home and  I  do  not  have   to  deal  with  Nigerians in  Nigeria.

The  likes  of  Lawan, cannot lead or  inspire  a  nation, yet  they  awarded themselves  one  of the  highest   salary  anywhere  in  the  world.  Do they deserve their   fat salaries?  No! It should be Payment by result. If they  cannot show  us what  they  have done  on  our  behalf  to  better our  quality  of  life, why   should  they be  given carte blanche to continue leading the   country  to  ruin and damnation.

The  mood in Nigeria  is  not  a unhappy one, in particular   regarding the   extensive  looting and pillaging  of our resources by people   entrusted  to   do  better  and   should   know   better.  They   have  failed  us   but  most  of  all,  they  failed   the   younger  generations,  sending   the   wrong  message that pilfering pays.
I told you, a week is a long time in politics. For Lawan, am sure, this saga will drag on and on.


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