Business mogul, Femi Otedola yesterday insisted that a former member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan demanded bribe to exonerate his company from alleged subsidy fraud.
Lawan is being prosecuted by the federal government for allegedly demanding a bribe, to the tune of $3million from Mr Otedola, owner of Zenon oil and company, while he (Lawan) was chairman of the committee that investigated the fraud allegations connected to the fuel subsidy during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
While testifying before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Otedola, who was led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN told Justice Angela Otaluka of an Abuja High Court how Lawan demanded the bribe from him.
He gave his testimony shortly after the prosecution played a video where Lawan was seen receiving the sum of $500, 000 from Otedola.
Otedola said Lawan had indicted his company in the subsidy fraud and demanded a sum of $3 million as bribe to exonerate his company.
He further stated that after the initial deposit of $500 000 was paid into Lawan’s account, Lawan declared Zenon Oil and Gas free of the initial indictment.
“After the early hours of 24th April 2012: (the time the money was paid) he left and removed the name of Zenon from the list of indicted companies,” Mr Otedola said while explaining the factors that prompted his alleged payment of $500, 000 to Mr Lawan in April, 2012.
“I could not have put pressure on him because Zenon oil was not involved in the theft of the subsidy fund.
“He did demand. And if he did not demand, why will he collect and expect a balance of 2. 5 million dollars? He mentioned to me that the 3 million dollars will be shared by himself and some other members of the House,” Mr Otedola said.
“Moreover, the company in question was not involved in the importation of premium motor spirit (PMS) and as such never applied to withdraw from the petroleum fund.”
The witness also denied an allegation by Lawan that he (Otedola) offered to pay the money, so that his name would be removed from the list of indicted companies.
Otedola said he had reported the matter initially to the State Security Service (SSS) when he found out about the scam.
Otedola also refuted claim by Lawan that Zenon Oil and Gas was exonerated on the bases of documents later provided by the company, adding that all documents relating to the investigation had been submitted to the sub-committee.
Otedola said his report to security operatives on the matter prompted investigations into the allegations by the police who invited him for questioning after which his statement was taken by the police force.
After the prosecution was done with its questioning of the witness, a lawyer from the chambers of the Principal Defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome demanded an adjournment to allow his principal attend the next trial and cross- examination.
The lawyer said he was sick and could not proceed with the cross-examination at the day’s sitting.
The judge, Angela Otaluka adjourned the matter to January 28 for cross examination.
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