I gave $100,000 to Farouk Lawan, witness tells court
• ‘Ad-hoc committee was under pressure to compromise through bribe’
A prosecuting witness in the trial of former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan, yesterday told a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Lugbe, Abuja, that Chairman of Forte Oil, Mr. Femi Otedola gave him $100, 000, which he then gave to Mr. Farouk as he was directed by Mr. Otedola.
The first Prosecution Witness, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, a Deputy Director Legislative, and Clerk, House Committee on Health Institutions at the House of Representatives, who told Justice Angela Otaluka that he had only come across Mr. Otedola during his assignment, said he had gone to the house of Mr. Otedola to collect the money after he had received a call from him (Mr. Otedola) on the morning of April 24, 2012.
He said: “On the 24th of April, 2012, it was in the morning hours, I received calls from Mr. Otedola and I reported to my chairman (Mr. Farouk) about the calls and he asked me to play along.
“When Mr. Otedola called again, he asked me to come over to his house and gave me descriptions. When I got to his house following the descriptions, he confirmed to me that he was with my chairman the previous night and he has a message for the chairman.
“He gave me two bundles of dollar bills in $100 denominations. Each bundle fifty thousand dollars making it one hundred thousand dollars.
“When I got back to the office, I wrote a memo forwarding the money to my chairman. I gave him the $100,000 with the memo on the same day 24th April, 2012 and he received both the memo and the money from me.”
The prosecution team, led by Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, with the ICPC, showed a copy of the written memo to the witness, which Emenalo confirmed a copy of the memo he wrote to Mr. Farouk Lawan.
Justice Otaluka, after examining the document, admitted it into evidence after the defence led by Mike Ozekhome, SAN, declared “absolutely no objection to the document”.
Earlier in the matter, Emenalo has been separately accused of receiving $120,000 as gratification from Otedola for the same purpose, an offence which violates Section 10 (a)(ii) of ICPC Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 10 of the same Act.
Emenalo, however, has denied receiving the amount. Emenalo told the court yesterday, that he had only received $100,000 from Mr. Otedola and said that a statement by Mr. Otedola that he gave him $120,000 was a lie.
Ozekhome, while cross-examining Emenalo, asked the question: “You said it was only $100,000 given to you? Would you be surprised that Mr. Femi Otedola said he gave you $120,000?”
Emenalo replied: “I was more than surprised when I read it in the papers. I felt bad that a man of such magnitude could tell such lies.”
Emenalo, who told the court that he had been an employee of the House of Representative as at 2012, said that on the 8th of Janurary, 2012, the House of Representatives had sat for the first time sat and has never again sat on a Sunday.
“The House had sat on the Sunday as a result of the tension in the country following the removal of fuel subsidy,” Emenalo told the court.
“ The sitting of the House of Reps considered the motion of monitoring the subsidy review and resolved to set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to look into the subsidy regime.
“Following the set up of the committee, I was appointed the secretary by the Clerk, House of Representative and the Chairman of the committee was Hon. Farouk Lawan.
“My duty was to provide bureaucratic needs of the committee such as taking notes of the minutes, circulating documents to members, putting notice of meetings to members.”
Following the case of alleged bribery against Lawan by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Lawan and Boniface Emenalo are standing trial before Justice Angela Otaluka on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on obtaining $620,000 from Otedola in order to doctor the committee’s report in favour of Zenon Oil and Gas Limited.Lawan and Otedola were first arraigned before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi on February 2, 2013.
The matter was reassigned to Justice Adebukola Banjoko after Justice Oniyangi was moved to the Court of Appeal. Following an objection again before Justice Banjoko, the case was re-assigned to Justice Otaluka.
Farouk and Otedola were alleged to have conspired in April 2012 to demand $3 million gratification from Otedola to remove his firm from the list of oil companies indicted for fuel subsidy scam.