Business mogul, Femi Otedola on Wednesday insisted that a former member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan demanded a $3 million bribe to exonerate his company from alleged subsidy fraud.
Lawan is being prosecuted by the Federal Government for allegedly demanding the bribe from Otedola while he 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 is also the owner of Zenon Oil and Gas gave Justice Angela Otaluka of an Abuja High Court a detailed account of how Lawan demanded the bribe from him.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Otedola gave his testimony shortly after the prosecution played a video where Lawan was seen receiving the sum of $500, 000 from Otedola.
Otedola revealed that Lawan had indicted his company in the subsidy fraud and demanded a sum of $3 million as bribe to exonerate his company adding 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 (when the money was paid), he left and removed the name of Zenon from the list of indicted companies. I could not have put pressure on him because Zenon Oil was not involved in the theft of the subsidy fund,” Otedola explained.
“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.
“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,” he added.
Otedola also denied an allegation by Lawan that he offered to pay the money so that his name would be removed from the list of indicted companies, adding that he initially had reported the matter to the State Security Service (SSS) after he discovered that it was a scam.
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.
Otedola also refuted a claim by Lawan that Zenon Oil and Gas was exonerated on the bases of documents later provided by the company as all documents relating to the investigation had been submitted to the sub-committee.
After the prosecution was done questioning Otedola, a lawyer from the chambers of the Principal Defence counsel, Mike Ozekhome demanded an adjournment to allow his principal attend to his health and prepare for the next trial and cross- examination.
The presiding judge, Angela Otaluka adjourned the matter to January 28 for cross examination.