BY IFERI ETUK
The House of Representatives is to reconvene on Friday for an emergency session over the $620,000 bribery scandal that has rocked the lower chamber currently on a two-week recess.
The plenary will debate allegations that Farouk Lawan, the Chairman of the House adhoc committee on fuel subsidy management, received the huge sum as bribe from oil billionaire, Femi Otedola, to exonerate his firm, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, as one of the violators of government subsidy.
Otedola agreed paying the money, claiming that he was working with law enforcement agents who secretly videotaped the payment in April just before the House deliberated on the committee’s report that was widely applauded.
Lawan, on his part, claimed he accepted the money so as to expose Otedola’s graft tendencies. However, he had initially issued a statement denying the bribe; and had also reported the issue to the House leadership a month after the money was collected. Sources have said that only came after he realised he had been set up.
Lawmakers have said the episode is amongst the most embarrassing for the chamber that has seen many scandals.
The extraordinary session will hold on Friday June 15, 2012, the Clerk of the House, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, said in a message to lawmakers on Wednesday. “Honourable members are advised to take note and attend promptly please,” he said.
Otedola was quizzed by police investigators on Tuesday. Sources have said he may not be charged; instead, may provide a witness account against Lawan when the lawmaker is eventually charged.
Lawan is likely to be asked to resign his position from the committee pending investigation by the House and the law enforcement agencies.
The House has said in an earlier statement it will not defend the lawmaker is found culpable.
“While we await investigation into these weighty accusations, we wish to state without equivocation that this honourable House will never take sides with corruption and we will always stand on the side of the rule of law,” said Zakari Muhammed, the House spokesperson.