- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Sunday, 10 June 2012 21:10
- Written by Elombah.com
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Hon. Farouk Lawan, has denied media reports that a top member of the committee received $600,000 bribe from an oil marketer to influence the report. Lawan told journalists in Abuja last night that he neither demanded nor collected money
from "anybody in connection with the fuel subsidy probe."
Chairman Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Hon. Lawan
In a situation where the Committee uncovered fraud over N1 trillion, Lawan said it should be expected that the powerful cabal behind the high scale corruption in the oil sector would not only fight back but would fight dirty.
Denying ever meeting the unnamed oil marketer at the Abuja airport to receive the $600,000 first installment of what was said to be a $3 million bribe, an apparently angry Lawan said he had to leave the country when pressures were coming from high quarters to doctor the report to suit certain interest.
Lawan, in a statement bearing his signature and issued to newsmen, said: "My attention has been drawn to several newspapers and Internet stories alleging that a prominent member of the House Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy demanded and received the sun of $600,000 as bribe from an oil marketer.
"I wish to categorically deny that I or any member of the committee demanded and received any bribe from anybody in connection with the fuel subsidy probe and I believe this is evident from thorough and indepth manner the investigation was carried out and the all-encompassing recommendations produced therefrom as approved by the whole House.
"The general public is hereby reminded that during and after the investigations, we have severally raised alarm on pressures on us from different quarters. In particular, I wish to refer to the front page publication in the Leadership Weekend newspaper of 28th, April, 2012 captioned "Marketers offered subsidy committee plane-load of dollars" where we alerted the public that a marketer promised to fly in a jet loaded with US dollars which he "intended to share to both the House leadership and members of the Adhoc Committee" to influence the outcome of the report.
"The clarification is necessary in order to clear all the insinuations being bandied about and more importantly to enable Government concentrate on the implementation of the report.
"The present mudslinging is not unexpected in view of the caliber of people whose actions or inactions were found wanting in the report. I am aware that in their desperation to discredit the report and divert the attention of the public from the real issues of large scale fraud in high places established in our report, a video footage displaying a caricature of my person allegedly having a dealing with a marketer reminiscent of military ear when dignitaries were invited to the Villa to watch video clip of phantom coup involving Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is already in circulation.
"I wish to assure all Nigerians that the sanctity of our reports remains unassailable and it will be in the best interest of the country if the relevant authorities faithfully and consciously implement the resolutions of the House. No amount of red-herring and cheap blackmail will affect our resolve to act in the best interest of the country with all the available information at our disposal. No doubt, the last has not been heard".
ALLEGED $3BILLION BRIBE: Oil baron gave Rep $600,000 at Abuja airport
• Security agencies retrieve call logs, transcripts • Allegation no excuse to dump fuel subsidy report –House
The $600000 alleged bribe given to a key figure in the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Probe by an oil magnate is now said to have been handed over to him at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja .
The money was supposed to be the first instalment of the $3million allegedly offered to be paid by the oil magnate ostensibly to compromise the work of the committee.
Already, security agencies have retrieved the call logs of the committee member and the businessman described as one the largest donors to the campaign fund of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
Following the high-level of confidential data in the custody of the embattled committee member, a senior government official and some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been talking to him to keep quiet with a view to foreclosing a probe into the scandal.
The man at the centre of the scandal, sources said yesterday, is contemplating opening up on what transpired between him and the oil magnate.
The Representative is said to have been angered by what he sees as a plot to rubbish his hard-earned integrity.
Some members of the Ad Hoc Committee are equally angry with their colleague for his conduct in the matter and may address the press to give their own account of the situation.
The House of Representatives officially opened up last night on the alleged scam and declared that while it would not condone corruption among members, the scam should not be used as an excuse by the executive to discard the report of the ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy.
It said the recommendations contained in the report should be implemented to the letter.
A member of the Ad Hoc Committee told The Nation on Sunday that the alleged bribe was offered to the Representative at the airport.
The source said: “We have discovered that the oil baron doled out the $600,000 at the Abuja Airport. We were shocked about how the deal was done. But no member of the committee was in the picture until last week when it became an issue in the House. Let the whole world know that members of the committee did not know about the deal.
“This is why it was painful to us when senior government official and top officers of the PDP came to the House to meet with us to conceal it. They were behaving as if it was the government that sent the oil magnate to offer the bribe to the key figure in our committee.
“It is unfortunate that we are all bearing the brunt of this bribe saga. We will not give up we are certainly ready to address the press on this matter.”
Another member of the House chipped in: “To worsen the matter, a top government official, who had played a crucial role in the Senate in the past, came to douse the tension in the House over the matter. The PDP leadership also intervened.
“Then, we became curious about their business in this matter. They said the affected oil baron is very close to the government and he had donated to the PDP presidential campaign in 2011.”
It was gathered that security agencies are already in possession of the call logs of the giver and taker of the $600,000.
“The issue has attracted security concern. The call logs of the two actors have been retrieved for insight into how the deal was struck,” a highly placed source said yesterday. In the next few days, the nation will hear much about this matter because it is already in the public domain.”
The embattled coordinating member of the House Ad Hoc Committee may on his own, open up on the scandal to save his image.
A principal officer of the House said: “I think we have reached a stage where the affected committee member may speak out. He has repeatedly maintained that he got the bribe money to serve as evidence.
“Do not forget that even when the committee was sitting, he had repeatedly raised the alarm that there were attempts to either bribe or scandalize him.
“So, he has a lot to tell the nation too. But the PDP leadership is asking him to keep quiet.”
The House of Representatives through the Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Muhammed, officially reacted yesterday.
Mr. Muhammed, in a statement said: “The attention of the House of Representatives has been drawn to reports alleging that one of its members, has in the course of his committee work as a member of the ad hoc committee which investigated the subsidy regime, allegedly received a gratification from an oil baron to exonerate his companies from complicity in the oil subsidy scam.
“While we await investigation into these weighty accusations, we wish to state without equivocation that this House will never take sides with corruption and we will always stand on the side of the rule of law.
“The reason we inaugurated the ad hoc committee to look into the controversial subsidy regime in the first place was to expose corruption in the sector, as such, we cannot, for whatever reason, support any underhand dealing from any quarter.
“However, these accusations, whatever their merits, do not detract from the quality of the work done by the committee. The report of that committee was adopted by the whole House and we stand by the resolutions of the House.
“The present House of Representatives will not relent in its efforts to render quality legislation and oversight functions to Nigerians. Today, we are gradually beginning to see the end of this monstrosity that has bedevilledSTO our progress as a nation for so long.
“We hope that the Executive will not, because of this allegation, abandon its commitment towards bringing to justice, the culprits already identified in the committee’s report.”
With reports from The Nation Newspaper