The House of Representatives is not yet done with the oil baron, Mr. Femi Otedola, the central figure in the $620,000 alleged bribe which has led to the suspension of Mallam Farouk Lawan as Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Ad hoc Committee on fuel Subsidy Management.
The House described Otedola as “a sinking man” after the oil baron dismissed the decision of the Reps to restore Zenon Oil and Gas Limited and Synopsis Enterprises Limited, believed to be owned by him, in the list of oil importers indicted by the ad hoc committee as corruptly receiving oil subsidy. He had called the decision as laughable and a celebration of corruption.
He also said he suspected that Lawan could not have acted alone in allegedly extorting bribe from him.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media, Zakari Mohammed, responding to Otedola’s allegation, challenged him to name Lawan’s conspirators.
The House, he declared, acted within the rule of law by its decision and did not celebrate corruption as being alleged by Otedola.
He said: “As an institution, we won’t join words with Mr. Femi Otedola. His case is that of a sinking man. As far as we are concerned in this country, for every personality that claims to be straightforward, we know his or her background, antecedents, way of life and means of doing business.
“On his allegation that Mr. Farouk Lawan could not have acted alone, the House of Representatives is asking Otedola to name others. He who alleges must prove beyond reasonable doubt. We have made ourselves available as open as possible with what we did on Friday.”
He continued: “To say that we are celebrating corruption is mischievous and unfair. I think any patriotic and conscientious Nigerian should appreciate that what we did was a show of transparency and allowing the rule of law.
“We support anti-corruption campaign; we will not waiver in our commitment to this. We cannot be the investigator, the prosecutor and the judge at the same time. We decided to allow the law to take its course.”
He denied suggestion that the Reps were witch-hunting Otedola.
“Since the removal of Zenon Oil and Gas from the list of those having issues to answer became questionable, we felt there is need for a thorough investigation into the matter.
“The Ad Hoc Committee is re-examining allegations against those 17 companies who allegedly obtained foreign exchange without importing products. Otedola should go back to the committee instead of rushing to the press.
“Certainly, there is no question of witch-hunt at all. As an institution, we are above partisanship.”
On the mix-up of figures by the House on the actual amount credited to Zenon, Mohammed added: “Whatever complaint he has about figures, he should channel it to that committee rather than hastily running to the press.”
The House spokesman assured Nigerians that it would be more courageous in conducting its affairs to earn more dividends of democracy for the populace.
He said: “We will continue to be focused, we will avoid distraction. We have resolved to be more courageous on the Nigerian Project targeted at delivering more dividends to Nigerians who are our employers.”