…Says he paid $500,000
Businessman Femi Otedola has told a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Lugbe, Abuja that former the House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan allegedly demanded $3million bribe from him.
Otedola, who said he did not pressurise the ex-lawmaker to exclude his company from the list of those probed for fuel subsidy fraud, admitted paying $500,000 to Lawan.
Otedola, who is the Chairman of Zenon Oil, spoke on Wednesday while testifying as prosecution witness in the trial of Lawan for allegedly receiving gratification while serving as Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on investigation into fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
Led in evidence by d by Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Otedola said: “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 $2.5m?
“He mentioned to me that the $3m will be shared by himself and some other members of the House,” the witness said.
Otedola stated that his company was not involved in the fuel subsidy fraud and that there was no basis for it to be indicted
He claimed that Lawan merely demanded money from him in an attempt to extort him.
Otedola, who said he reported the matter initially when he found out about the scam in the fuel subsidy regime, also told the court that Lawan “mentioned to me that several companies that were involved in the scam were paying. And I reported to the DSS.”
Otedola said he watched on the television how Lawan moved the motion for the removal of Zenon Oil from the list of indicted firms after receiving the $500,000.
He said his company was actually excluded from the list because of the documents it supplied to prove its innocence.
At the conclusion of Otedola’s evidence-in-chief, defence lawyer, L. Azuka, who stood in for Mike Ozekhome (SAN), sought an adjournment to enable him time to prepare for cross-examination.
Justice Angela Otaluka agreed to his request and adjourned to January 28 for cross-examination.
The Federal Government is, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), prosecuting Lawan on an amended four-count charge, in which he is accused among others, of corruptly collecting $500,000 out of the $3m bribe he allegedly demanded from Otedola.
Lawan was equally accused of accepting $500,000 as bribe for the removal of Otedola’s company’s name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the list of firms indicted by the Lawan-led House committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
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