BY OKEY NDIRIBE & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges would hold an executive session today to decide on whether it would eventually hold an open hearing on the $3 million bribery scandal involving Hon. Farouk Lawan, former chairman of the lower chamber’s ad-hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy.
It was learnt that following Femi Otedola’s refusal to speak in camera when he appeared before the committee last week, the committee had been directed by the leadership of the House to consider the option of holding an open hearing in order to demonstrate transparency over the matter to members of the public.
Sources close to the leadership of the House indicated that the committee would also consider other witnesses to invite in its investigative hearing.
It would be recalled that at the committee’s last sitting, Otedola who had alleged that Lawan extorted $620,000 from him as part of the $3 million bribe he demanded to delist Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, insisted he would only speak if the committee holds an open hearing.
The Committee Chairman Hon.Gambo Dan-Musa had turned down Otedola’s request and insisted that the decision of the Committee to sit in camera was in line with provisions of the Constitution and rules of the House. However, despite these explanations Otedola had refused to budge.
The oil magnate’s lawyer Mr.Babajide Koku (SAN) who spoke on his behalf had given several reasons why his client would prefer an open hearing before Otedola could open up on the case. He had stated that Lawan had lied four times since the scandal was exposed.
The House at its plenary session held last month referred the bribery scandal to the Ethics and Privileges Committee which swung into action two weeks ago when it summoned Lawan and Otedola to appear before it.
Penultimate week Otedola had dragged the Leadership of the House before an Abuja High Court claiming N250 billion as damages over the decision of the House to relist his company as one of those indicted for receiving foreign currency allocation to import petroleum products without doing so.