The Hon. Farouk Lawan story has taken a new dimension. Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon. Adams Jagaba whom Lawan said he gave $620,000 bribe, yesterday denied ever receiving any money from the embattled lawmaker.
In his statement to the police last week, Lawan said that the money was in Jagaba’s custody. Based on the claim, Jagaba in a memo addressed to the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal yesterday, said that he had no bribe money in his custody.
He said: “I wish to categorically and unequivocally state that there was never a time I was in possession of the sum of 620,000 dollars or any other exhibits (In my personal capacity or official capacity as chairman of the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes) relating to the subject matter of the above investigation.
“I hope this explanation lays to rest once and for all the claims that I or my committee is in possession of the sum of 620,000 dollars purportedly given as bribe to the Ad-hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime”
Jagaba’s memo was titled: “Re-investigation activities: Request for handing over of exhibits in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy and taking gratification to pervert the course of justice”. He was responding to a memo issued him by the Speaker demanding an explanation on the bribe money.
The Speaker’s memo was signed by his Special Adviser on Legal and Legislative Matters, Chille Igbawa, . In addition to the memo, Tambuwal forwarded a letter from the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar on the matter to Jagaba
The IGP’s letter had requested Tambuwal to supply information on the 620,000 dollars exhibit as well as any other material evidence that may be of use to the investigation. Jagaba said that he cannot be dragged to a matter he had no knowledge of.”I have nothing to do with the so-called $620,000 or any other money for that matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Force Headquarters said yesterday that Lawan, who is at the centre of a $3 million bribe deal over fuel subsidy probe report, must surrender the $490,000 part-payment in his custody. Lawan, the suspended Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments, had parted with $10,000 recovered from his home during a search by the police.
He admitted collecting $500,000 from Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman, Zenon Oil Plc, of a $3 million bribe deal struck to assist the buinessman in deleting his company’s name from the list of indicted firms ordered to refund N1.7 trillion to the Federal Government.
Otedola said that he played along with Lawan, who piled pressure on him to release the money, even though he insisted Zenon committed no crime because the firm supplies diesel which is not included the Petroleum Subsidy Fund (PSF) through which the fraud was perpetrated.
The $500,000 was given to Lawan in a “string operation” involving the security agencies. Lawan was arrested last Thursday when he honoured police invitation. He was released on Saturday after giving an undertaking to return the $490,000 to the police Special Task Force (STF) investigating the bribe.
The embattled lawmaker returned to the STF on Monday without the exhibit. Speaking on a live radio programme in Abuja yesterday, the Assistant Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Inyang, said: “He must tender the marked money because it is an exhibit, apart from that, he has also signed an undertaking to ensure that the money is recovered. “For now, we have not been able to lay our hands on the exhibit,” Inyang noted.
On the insinuation that Lawan was detained for more than 48 hours, Mr. Inyang said the lawmaker who reported to the Force Headquarters last Friday, was released on Saturday, after interrogation. The police also said that they allowed Lawan, who reported to the Louis Edet House headquarters on Monday after he agreed to co-operate with not just the police, but also with other security agencies and anti-corruption outfits involved in the investigation.
On how soon the police are expected to conclude investigation, the police spokesman appealed for time especially given the kind of personalities involved in the scam. Inyang also dispelled claims that the police had concluded investigation with Otedola, who reported the alleged bribe to security agencies.
He said: “We are not yet done with Femi Otedola, we are still obtaining statement from him and whenever we need him, we will invite him”.
Meanwhile, Lawan yesterday failed to appear before the STF. He is, however, expected to report to the police tomorrow to continue with the investigation. Although no reason was given as to why the embattled lawmaker did not appear at the police headquarters, Daily Sun gathered that he may be avoiding more trouble.
Similarly, the top hierarchy of the police is said not to be happy with the way STF members were divulging information to the media, which they fear, may jeopardize investigation into the matter.