Disgraced member of the House of Representative and suspended chairman of the House Ad-Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of Subsidy Regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan, has began defending himself in the ongoing investigation into a $620,000 bribery allegation levelled against him by business mogul Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman, Zenon Oil and Gas.
Lawan, who was interrogated behind closed doors by the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges, which began investigation into the allegation yesterday, said what he collected was money and not a bribe.
Restating his earlier statement to the media, Lawan said he collected $500,000 from Otedola not as a bribe but as exhibit that he planned to use as evidence of the attempt by the oil marketer to influence the report of the subsidy probe.
Otedola, in his account of the transaction between the duo, had claimed that Lawan made repeated demands of him for money to stop the ad hoc committee from indicting his company, adding that he had to bring in security agents who advised him to play along with the lawmaker in a bid to nail him.
The security agents, he added, provided the serialised dollar bills that were given to Lawan, who collected the money without knowing that he was being recorded.
A source told THISDAY that Lawan appeared confident throughout his session with the Ethics Committee, but he was rather evasive when asked about the whereabouts of the money he admitted to have collected.
Unlike in the past when he claimed that the money was with the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon. Adams Jagaba, Lawan said the security agencies would establish the whereabouts of the money during their investigations.
On his part, Jagaba in different letters to the House Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, had denied Lawan’s claim.
THISDAY checks showed that besides his oral testimony, Lawan also tendered documents said to contain call logs obtained from a telecommunication service provider to substantiate his claim that Otedola initiated the transaction and not him.
It was learnt that the committee might recall Lawan to give further clarifications on his testimony as the investigation progresses.
Earlier, Lawan, who had arrived at the venue of the committee at 1.05 pm, expressed surprise at the heavy media presence. He expressed pleasantries with his colleagues and reporters before taking his seat.
Chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Hon. Gambo Dan-Musa, gave a synopsis of the case under investigation and shortly after, ordered reporters to excuse the committee to enable it interrogate Lawan in camera.
Dan-Musa said the committee’s mission was to establish the facts of the bribery allegation and after a series of meetings, it decided to invite Lawan, Otedola and other stakeholders involved in the matter to appear before it at different times.
“The committee is set to carry out its assignment with a very high sense of commitment. We shall strive to be fair and just to all parties involved. It is our belief that at the end of the day, our report will meet the expectations of the House and indeed that of the Nigerian public,” Dan-Musa said.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, who addressed reporters later, said the decision to conduct the investigation secretly was to create a conducive atmosphere for Lawan and others to give their testimonies freely and without distraction.
“You know that it is an investigative hearing and we want to avoid a situation where his (Lawan) presentation would bungle certain people’s submissions.
“Of course, the police are doing their own investigations and they are doing that in camera. So we believe that this also should be done in camera to at least give everybody some protection and the freedom to say all that he or she knows.
“If you are sure there are cameras, there might be certain things witnesses might want to hide. So it is not as if we are trying to hide anything but we want to ensure that we do a thorough job of this investigation,” Mohammed said.
Nigeria’s Communications Minister, Isa Pantami, Loses 13-year-old Daughter
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, has announced the loss of his 13-year-old daughter, Aishah Isa Ali.
The Minister took to his Twitter account on Monday night to announce this sad news.
Pantami stated that the funeral prayer for the deceased will be conducted in Abuja on Tuesday at Annur Masjeed, Wuse 2.
The post by the minister announcing the incident reads; “Inna lil Laahi wa inna ilaiHi Rajiun! My 13-year old daughter, Aishah Isa Ali (Amal) passed away just a moment ago.
“Due to some necessities, funeral prayer tomorrow at Annur Masjeed, Wuse 2, immediately after Zuhr prayer In sha Allah. May Allah forgive and be merciful to her.”
Inna lil Laahi wa inna ilaiHi Rajiun!
My 13-year old daughter, Aishah Isa Ali (Amal) passed away just a moment ago.
Due to some necessities, funeral prayer tomorrow at Annur Masjeed, Wuse 2, immediately after Zuhr prayer in sha Allah. May Allah forgive & be Merciful to her.
— Isa Ali Pantami, PhD (@DrIsaPantami) November 23, 2020
Cult Violence: Wike Imposes Two-Week Curfew Around Okoro-Nu-Odu
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has imposed a 24-hour total curfew for two weeks on some parts of Port-Harcourt, the state capital.
The Governor made this known during a broadcast on Sunday where he noted that the curfew begins from Monday 23rd November 2020.
The statement noted that the upsurge noticed by the state government in cases of cult activities, other forms of violence, and killings is responsible for the curfew.
Wike in the statement declared that the entire area along and around the Okoro-nodu flyover up to a one-kilometre radius from Saint Emmanuel Anglican Church, Rumuokoro, extending to the Rumuodomaya Slaughter and Local Government daily market will be affected.
He added that no form of trading, human or vehicular movement is allowed in the affected areas until further notice.
Zamfara Governor Secures Release Of 11 Kidnapped Victims
Governor of Zamafara, Bello Matawalle has announced the release of 11 kidnapped victims.
According to reports, ten of the victims were male and a female from Bukkuyum Local Government Area.
Matawalle received the rescued kidnapped victims on Saturday night at the Government House in Gusau, the state capital.
The Commissioner of Security and Home Affairs, Abubakar Muhammed Dauran revealed that the victims were released without paying a ransom.
He stated they were released as a result of the peace initiative and stakeholders meeting summoned by Governor Matawalle with all critical stakeholders from Bukkuyum Local Government Area on Thursday.
Governor Matawalle assured that his administration will not rest on its oars until total peace is achieved in all parts of the state.
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