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Otedola tells police how he gave Lawan $620,000
tells police how he gave Lawan $620,000
Femi Otedola yesterday told the police Special Task Force (STF) all he knows about the $3million cash-for-clearance scandal involving the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Farouk Lawan. The Zenon Oil chairman spent about one hour, writing a statement, which contains details of how, according to him, he gave Lawan $620,000.
He reportedly told the police to insist that Lawan must bring the exact dollar bills he (Otedola) gave him. The businessman said the State Security Service (SSS) marked the cash.
Lawan has refused to tender the money, saying it is his proof that Otedola tried to bribe him.
The lawmaker is yet to show up, but the authorities have reached out to the leadership of the House to prevail on him to appear before the STF on or before Thursday of face “the full wrath of the law”.
It was learnt that Lawan might be declared wanted if he does not honour police invitation, which has been pending since June 7.
Otedola met the STF, headed by Commissioner of police Ali Amodu, between 10am and 11am in Room I.D. 068 on the First Floor of the Force Headquarters. He was in his trade mark white short sleeve shirt and trousers.
Amodu led the team that unearthed the $180million Halliburton scam.
It was gathered that the police treated Otedola with courtesy. They demanded for his account of the bribery allegation. He was said to have tendered the video and audio evidence of the allegation – that Farouk blackmailed him into parting with the cash.
A source said: “The oil magnate walked in quietly this morning to make his statement and we obliged him. He wrote a lengthy statement and insisted that the $3million bribe was demanded from him by Lawan. He told us clearly that he has evidence to back up his allegation.
“He also explained how he gave out $600,000 to the affected member of the House and why he chose to play along.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “For now, we only took Otedola’s statement. We need to get the statement from the other side(Lawan).
The source expressed regrets that Lawan was yet to respond to the invitation extended to him by the STF since June 4.
The source said the last communication with Lawan was on Monday when a Deputy Commissioner of police in charge of the National Assembly was asked to get in touch with him.
The source added: “We asked Lawan to appear before our team of investigators on June 7 but he has not honoured our invitation. We are following the due process.
“We have reached out to the leadership of the House of Representatives to prevail on Lawan to respect the Police.
“We will, however, give him up till Thursday to come for interaction with the STF or we will apply the law. Do not forget that we can either declare him wanted or secure a bench warrant from a court for his arrest.
On further enquiries, the source said: “Otedola came to the Force Headquarters voluntarily. He said he felt as a responsible citizen, he should come and throw more light on his allegation against Lawan which is in the public domain.
“I can tell you that he gave us much information with many bends for our investigation. But, apart from the statement, we did not retrieve anything (either video or audio tape) from him.
“We are going to do a thorough job. We want to hear from all the parties before we begin to collect documents or evidence.
Pressed to explain if Otedola was released on bail, he added: “We are not treating anybody as a suspect, so there is no need for bail at all.”
“You can see that we released Otedola after making his statement. Lawan has nothing to fear.”
Ali’s last correspondence to Lawan on June 4 is titled “Investigation activities: Letter of invitation in a case of criminal conspiracy and attempt to pervert the course of justice by offering gratification.”
The letter reads: “I refer to a letter dated 31st May, 2012 addressed to this office by Hon. Farouk Lawan, the Chairman of House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on the Monitoring of the Subsidy Regime on the above subject matter (copy attached) and to inform you that the Inspector General of police has directed a detailed criminal investigation into the matter.
“Consequently, the Hon. Speaker is requested to ask the Chairman, Hon. Farouk Lawan and the Secretary of the Committee to have a meeting with the under-signed on Thursday 7th June, 2012 at 100hrs at Force Headquarters, Room I.D 068, First Floor, Louis Edet House, Abuja .
“This is to enable detectives to conduct further investigation into the matter. While awaiting the Hon. Speaker’s kind consideration of this request, do accept the assurances and esteemed regards of the Inspector- General of Police, please.”
As the police await Lawan’s response, some of his friends and close associates have assembled a five-man legal team to defend the lawmaker.
Members of the legal team include two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) with high reputation.
An associate, who spoke in confidence, said: “We are set for a major legal battle ahead because the police are after the retrieval of the bribe sum to enable them arraign Lawan in court.
“We are suspecting a premeditated plot to rope Lawan in because Otedola admitted that he was part of a sting operation of the State Security Service(SSS). By implication, he has said that he is a state agent.
“That is why it will be more convenient for us to meet in court to tender the money exhibit than to give it to the police or any security agency.
“If it was a sting operation, the onus lies on those behind it to provide evidence and not Lawan. When we meet in court, the world will hear what they never heard.
“Lawan’s legal team is already on standby for his defence.”
When pressed further, the associate said: “The police cannot claim ignorance of the fact that after the receipt of the June 4 letter, Lawan and some highly-placed members of the House were at the Force Headquarters on June 6.
Already, curious members of the House have cut short their one-week recess to return to Abuja watch the video tape or listen to the audio tape of the alleged bribe saga in Abuja.
An excited member of the House, who listened to the audio tape, said: “I have heard what transpired; it is just unfortunate, I am sad. But as you people are doing your job, we will keep on enjoying the drama until we resume.”
Another House member said: “I have watched the video. It looked more real than a make-up. But when we come back, we will hear from Lawan before we crucify him. “
A member of the Ad Hoc Committee said: “Just let the world know that it was a one-man show. Members of the committee had nothing to do with it.”
Otedola tells police how he gave Lawan $620,000
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