- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Monday, 18 June 2012 00:17
- Written by PUNCH
POLICE investigators will begin the interrogation of seven members of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy management on Tuesday. Our correspondents report that police investigators will ask the legislators questions on the N96m bribery scandal in the House. The bribe was allegedly collected by the
suspended Chairman of the committee, Farouk Lawan; and Clerk, Boniface Emenalo, from an oil magnate, Femi Otedola.
Lawan and Emenalo were last Thursday interrogated and detained for 48 hours by the police.
The two regained their freedom on Saturday morning, but they are expected to report again to the police headquarters on Monday (today).
Lawan was removed from the headship of the subsidy committee last Friday during an emergency session by the House.
Otedola had confessed to the payment of the $620,000, being part of the $3m allegedly demanded by Lawan to delist Zenon Oil from firms found to have duped the government N1.7trn through the abuse of the subsidy regime.
The seven members of the House to by quizzed by the police are Ali Ahmad (PDP); John Enoh (PDP); Umar Sade (PDP); James Faleke (ACN); Eucharia Azodo (PDP) and Irona Alphonsus (PDP).
The police will also interrogate the Chairman of the House Committee on Narcotics, Adam Jagaba, who Lawan claimed to have kept the bribe money with.
Jagaba had been evasive about his role in the scandal since the diminutive lawmaker said he (Jagaba) knew about the bribe.
The PUNCH learnt on Sunday that the police decided to go after the lawmakers following disclosures by Lawan during his interrogation by the Special Task Force led by Commissioner of Police, Ali Ahmadu.
A source close to the STF told one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday that “there are still many people in the House who knew more about the bribe.”
“Lawan in his statement said he handed over the bribe money to the House leaders, specifically Jagaba. He must come forward to clear his name. What he says will determine what will happen to Lawan. We must get to the root of this matter,” the source added.
The PUNCH learnt also that Otedola would still be invited for another round of questioning.
The businessman was quizzed by the STF last week during which he was said to have told his interrogators the details of how he was pressured for the bribe by Lawan. Lawan was said to have made some revelations to which Otedola would be needed to clarify.
“It is very likely that Otedola will be summoned again to make one or two clarifications. It is not right to say that we are partial. He is the complainant. We are going to call him again to respond to certain things Lawan said,” a member of the STF told our correspondent on Sunday.
Sources confirmed to our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday that the police authorities had written to the leadership of the House to ensure that the committee members appeared before the STF.
The police, said to be hamstrung by the lack of access to the bribe money, were said to have leaned on the Speaker, of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, to help make the marked money available in order to quicken investigations and trial of the suspects.
A member of the STF, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity said, “The IG personally called Tambuwal on the phone to help the police recover the money, but the Speaker insisted that the appeal should be made in writing and this has been done.
“The committee members are expected to appear before the STF this week. It is certain that the exhibit (bribe money) will also be delivered to the police so that the investigations can be wrapped up as soon as possible.”
He explained that the STF would not allow the lawmakers to keep interrogators waiting for many days as Lawan did.
According to him, any of them that fails to come on Tuesday will be declared wanted.
“We must end the investigation this week. Anyone that fails to come on Tuesday will be declared wanted,” the source said.
The PUNCH learnt that the receipt of the bribe money and the statements of other committee members were key factors that would determine whether other committee members would be detained for interrogation or not.