I Took Otedola’s $500K Bribe To Expose Him – Farouk Lawan

The controversy over $620,000 fuel subsidy bribe allegation deepened yesterday with the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee that probed the fuel subsidy regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan, accusing Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola, of offering a $3 million bribe to spare his company in its report.

He said Otedola made a $500,000 down payment with a promise to pay up the remaining $2.5 million if the committee spared Zenon, but that the matter had been reported to the police. He dismissed Otedola’s claims that he and his committee’s secretary, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, collected $620,000 bribe from him unaware it was a sting operation as “diversionary,” saying Otedola actually offered Emenalo $100,000 to shield Zenon during the probe.

Lawan said the probe had subjected his life to a chain of threats, but that he remained unshaken. The lawmaker said shortly after Otedola approached him with the money, he duly informed Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Crimes.

In a letter dated April 24, 2012, Lawan wrote: “Attached (to the letter) is the sum of five hundred thousand dollars only, offered to me with another promise of two million, five hundred thousand dollars.”

The lawmaker said that his decision not to raise the matter on the floor of the House was deliberate, as he did not want anything that would overshadow the fuel subsidy probe.

“I had considered bringing this issue as a matter of privilege on the floor of the House later today (April 24), but I am concerned that the controversy it will generate will dwarf the contents of the report, which needs public attention so that necessary reforms in the sector could be effected,” the letter read.

“Given the desperation of Mr. Otedola, handling this matter, in a firm but diplomatic manner, is necessary as he had also made some veiled threats which put me and members of the committee in a delicate situation.”

To underscore Otedola’s desperation, said Lawan, Emenalo, had in a letter dated April 24, 2012, raised the alarm that Otedola offered him $100,000. “I wish to inform you that I was on his invitation, at the residence of their Chairman, Mr. Femi Otedola, in Maitama (Aso Drive ) this morning and he offered me the sum of one hundred thousand US dollars in two bundles of $50,000 each. The money is hereby forwarded as evidence,” Emenalo’s letter read.

The Acting Inspector-General of Police(IGP), Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, said Lawan had on May 9, 2012, directed a task force to interact with him. The Acting IGP in the letter marked CR:3000/IGP.SEC/STF/FHQ/ABJ/VOL 2/309, drew Lawan’s attention to an interview he granted a national newspaper on April 28,2012, directing “a discreet investigation into the matter.”

The Commissioner of Police, Special Task Force, Ali Amodu, signed the letter. In another letter dated May 16, 2012 also marked CR: 3000/IGP.SEC/STF/FHQ/ABJ/VOL 2/319, and signed by Amodu, the IGP requested money exhibit, names of witnesses and other material evidence from the lawmaker

In a response dated May 31, 2012, Lawan told the IGP that the House leadership had referred the matter to the relevant committee for investigation. The IGP, in a letter to the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, dated June 4, 2012, said investigation had been launched into the matter.

Titled: “Investigation activities: Letter of invitation in a case of criminal conspiracy and attempt to pervert the course of justice by offering gratification,” the office of the IGP stated that “the Inspector-General of Police had directed a detailed criminal investigation into the matter.” But in an interview granted ThisDay yesterday, Otedola stated his own version.

The Zenon boss narrated how at the beginning of the probe, Hon. Lawan had approached him to get some insight into how the downstream oil and gas sector works. This, he obliged Lawan by ensuring that his managing directors of Forte Oil Plc and Zenon Oil appeared at the subsidy probe during its public hearing after the two firms were invited by the committee.

Mr. otedola said that the committee was informed that Zenon does not and never made claims for subsidy payments because the company deals solely in the importation of diesel, a product which he said, is not subsidized.

Zenenon Oil Managing Director, Mr. Kanmi Kareem Otaru, had denied that the company had anything to do with the subsidy regime. “For the avoidance of doubt, Zenon never participated or benefited from the subsidy scheme or Petroleum Support Fund (PSF)”.

Otaru said going by the PSF Act: “Zenon Oil couldn’t participate in it because we don’t have a network of PMS retail outlets which was one of the key criteria beneficiaries must meet and as such, we are not qualified to participate to draw from subsidy payments on PMS. So, we never collected as records will show”.

Otedola said that in spite of Otaru’s clarification made at the hearing, Lawan still approached him a few days before the report was to be tabled on April 18, 2012 before the House of Representatives demanding money so that Zenon’s name will be kept out of the report”.

“When this happened, I was very angry and reminded him that Zenon has never participated in the subsidy scheme and that it would be criminal to rope in the company for something it didn’t do. “But Lawan responded, stating that several other marketers were playing ball and had offered the members of the committee large sums of money to ensure that their companies’ names were not published in the report”, he said.

The Zenon boss said that he initially backed at Lawan’s alleged attempt to extort money from him and to the lawmakers that he would not pay up, as the company had not committed any crime. Otedola said that he could not believe it the next day when the report came out and Zenon’s name had been listed under the category of companies that had bought foreign exchange from the Central Bank, but had not imported petrol.

The amount ascribed to Zenon in the report was $232,975,385:13. Reacting to the development yesterday, some lawmakers spoken to were divided on the matter. While some expressed outrage at the allegation, saying it had further dented the image of the House, others dismissed it as a ploy to shield “friends of those in power.”

They, however, refused to speak on record, choosing to align with the official position expressed at the weekend by their spokesman, Hon. Zakari Mohammed. The House spokesman had said the leadership would investigate all the allegations levelled against some of its officers when they return from break.

Said one lawmaker; “You know we are on break and can do very little until we reconvene on the 19th. This is sad. We were just smarting from the damage (Hon. Herman) Hembe did to our reputation. Now this,” a member, who didn’t want his name in print, told Daily Sun.

When we sought why he didn’t want his name in print, he said: “The House leadership has taken a position on the matter. It would be wrong for me to say something that would be out of sync. Another member, who chairs a standing committee, said that the allegations were weighty, but cautioned that restraint be exercised on the matter.

A female lawmaker told Daily Sun that she was surprised that Lawan was manipulated in the allegation, saying he was a man who had always striven to leave above board.

“What is happening is unfortunate. Farouk (Lawan) has chaired several standing and ad-hoc committees from information to appropriation, from inter-parliamentary to education. He had been in the system long enough to know that fire burns, reason I nurse my reservations on the allegations against him.

However, a principal officer disclosed that the House would not be able to take any stand until the 19th when it reconvenes. “As matters stand, we have to allow the relevant agencies conduct their investigations,” he offered.

Source: Sun Newspaper


  1. The most annoying part of it all is the he in the first place denied the allegations against him; calling it an intentional and “diversionary” plot in order to destroy recommendations of the subsidy probe. All what he has to say now is nothing but a mere rubbish!

  2. Mr. Otedola y give a bribe at all when U hv not commited a crime? Y did U not report it to the police or EFCC or ICPC? Mr. Lawan has claimed he reported the matter to the police so who is tellin the truth now. Zenon don’t forget your shady deals of adultrating Diesel. We know what U do to make your money.

  3. First Hon. Faruk denied ever collecting money. Then he claimed the video image was a caricature of him. Finally, yes it was him who collected the money to implicate the giver. My question to this fine gentleman Lawan, is where and why did you keep the money for this long? You know these men are ‘mafians’ and would do anything to save their faces. You allowed yourself and the institution you represent to fall into their dirty hands. In my opinion, this is a case of who would strike first. Both parties wanted to nail the other. Otedola gave a bribe and recorded knowing he would use it against Lawan. Lawan on the other hand collected planing to use it against Otedola(going by the memo to the IGP) But Lawan delayed in going to the butcher and Otedola capitalises on that and struck first.

  4. When natural and man-made disasters occur we mourn and sympathize,but we forget to realised that nothing is worst disastrous than corruption. If mr president really wants to transform Nigeria’s economic, he has to declare emergency mourning to sympathize the damages corruption had caused Nigeria. Nigerian politicians and elites should also remember that when a mother cow chews its mouth, the baby cow watches. I think the true is not far fetch when someone says this administration is the most naived, confused and anarchous government Nigeria has ever had. What kinds of legacies and idiosyncrasies our leaders want to beguent on the future-holders of this nation?

  5. I cannot be surprised at anything in Nigeria. I think the earlier the masses in Nigeria understands the type of people we call leaders in this country, the better 4 all of us. Our leaders are men without conscience. They are killers and corrupt elements who constantly pay homages to satanic institutions instead of coming closer to the Almighty God. Because of the questionable life styles of our so-called-leaders in Nigeria, I wuld rather trust the devil himself dan to trust a Nigeria leader. But don’t worry, it wuld soon be over. The fuel subsidy that makes poor masses to be dying every blessed day out of hunger and starvation, this is what we get. Nobody is free from bribery and he wuld be accused of bribery. No smoke without fire. The Zenon or whatever they are called, who claims they had no skeleton in their cupboard, why offering the money in the first place? Our leaders shuld repent now there is still time 4 them to do so. U will practically gain nothing by enriching urselves this way when the masses gnashes their teeth everyday and dies out of frustration in their own God given treasures. I think we need to invite foreigners to come and interven in our politice.