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$620,000 Fuel Subsidy Bribe: Otedola, Lamorde, to Testify against Lawan

When the trial of Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo resumes next April 10, the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd, Mr. Femi Otedola and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde will be among the witnesses that will testify against, Lawan and Emenalo who are both standing trial for allegedly collecting a bribe of $500,000 from Otedola as an inducement to remove his company’s name from the companies indicted in the fuel subsidy scam.

Otedola had alleged that the Lawan-led ad hoc committee demanded $3 million out of which he paid $620,000 as gratification in order to strike out his company’s name, Zenon Oil, from the list of indicted firms. Both Lawan and Emenalo had pleaded not guilty to the allegations of demanding and receiving bribes and had been admitted to bail.

Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties each in like sum. The accused persons were ordered to leave their travelling documents with the registrar of the court pending the conclusion of their trial. understands that in the proof of evidence filed in support of the charges, Otedola will testify that last year the House of Representatives committee investigating the fuel subsidy regime invited his company Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd over allegations that it collected subsidy without importation.

Otedola, sources tell, will also give evidence that his staff appeared before the committee and informed the committee that Zenon did not participate in the fuel subsidy regime, being a trading company with core competence in diesel. The business magnate will further state that, Lawan called him on phone and demanded the sum of $3 million so that the name of Zenon would be removed from the House Reps Ad hoc Committee on Monitoring of subsidy regime’s report.

Otedola will state that all efforts to persuade Lawan that his company was not involved in the subsidy scam were abortive. To which end, Otedola reported the matter of the attempted extortion by Lawan to the Department of State Security Service. And in a sting operation involving security operatives, he subsequently made a part payment of $620,000 to the accused who neither reported the offer and acceptance of the monies to the ICPC or the police as a bribe.

On his part, the EFCC chairman will testify that Lawan came to his office sometime in April, 2012 and reported to him that there were some fuel marketers who wanted to bribe him but neither mentioned the names of the alleged bribe givers nor that he had earlier collected any money from any person.

Lamorde will also give evidence that he agreed with Lawan that arrangements would be made to ensure that the marketers were arrested at the point of giving him the money and that Lawan should inform him as soon as he was ready. The EFCC boss will further testify that Lawan only called him three days later to inform him that the fuel marketers were no longer forthcoming.

Other witnesses are men of the Special Anti-Fraud Unit of the Inspector General of Police, Force Headquarters, Abuja, who investigated the allegations.