Sunday, 19 May 2013
Fuel Subsidy Bribery Scam: You Did Not Give Me $620,000, Rep. Jagaba Warns Rep. Lawan
The $620,000 bribery standoff between Representative Farouk Lawan and oil magnate Femi Otedola took another dramatic twist today in Abuja as the Chairman of the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Representative Jagaba Adams Jagaba, denied ever receiving $500,000 from the suspended Lawan.
Rep. Jagaba specifically demanded that the chairman of the Ad hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Investigation stop saying he had passed on to him along with a handwritten letter attached to it, the sum of $500,000 as an “exhibit” he collected from Chief Otedola.
Jagaba was addressing a press conference during which he described Lawan’s allegations as lies, and threatened to sue if his colleague continued to drag his name into the controversy.
He said: “I am a see-through glass, I have nothing to hide. Hon. Farouk Lawan alleged that he wrote a letter to me attaching $500,000. That is callously untrue and in fact, calculated to smear my hard-earned reputation, a reputation I painstakingly built since 1999. I never received any letter, or money, or any other exhibit from Farouk Lawan. I saw for the first time the purported letter on a page of the Leadership Newspaper, page 6 of 14th June, 2012; and the closest copy which I saw and touched, was the copy he presented to the Police Special Task Force (STF) investigating the bribery scandal, when I went there on 10th July, 2012.”
He told the story of his invitation by the Special Task Force (STF) of the police which is investigating the matter, which came recently while he was in South Africa for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Summit.
“When I returned to Nigeria, I went to the Police Force Headquarters on the 10th July 2012 at about 11:00 am to give my own side of the story on the bribery scandal investigation and I spent precisely two hours with them. On the 11th July, 2012; the Police STF graciously arranged for a meeting between Hon. Farouk Lawan and myself between the hours of 3 and 4 pm. Farouk, in his opening remarks, stated that he reported the matter to me because of my position as the Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes and not because I was involved in the bribery saga. He also told the Police that he involved me in the matter because he thinks that that would enhance his case in Court. We faced each other before the Police STF. I then put the question: "Hon. Farouk, did you give me $500,000 or any money for that matter?" This was a question the out-spoken Farouk could not answer. He kept mum till I left,” Jagaba said.
Analysing the letter Rep. Lawan said he had sent to him as published by Leadership Newspaper on June 14, he pointed out that it carried a time “stamp” of 03:47am on the top as well as at the end, after the writer had presumably finished writing.
“Is it the normal practice to indicate time on an official letter?” Rep. Jagaba asked. “The same time of 03:47am on the top-right of the letter (indicating that he started writing at that time) also appeared on the bottom-right of the letter (indicating that he ended his letter at 03:47am). Is it humanly possible to write a two-paged letter within or in less than one-second?’
He also pointed out, among others, that:
• The letter was addressed to the House Committee on Financial Crimes, when Rep. Lawan, a 4th-termer in the House should have known that the appropriate name of his committee is the House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes.
• On the second paragraph of the purported letter, Farouk Lawan stated, "attached is the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars only..." He asked: Is it practically possible to attach money of that quantity to a sheet of paper? Except if there exists a "Five-Hundred-Dollar-Bill!
• The second paragraph contained the words, "...with another promise of Two Hundred Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars". Said Mr. Jagaba: The total amount of bribe allegedly demanded is only $3 Million; but here is a Farouk quoting a balance of a whooping TWO HUNDRED MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS after collecting $500,000. The mathematics just did not add-up here!
• “I saw the purported letter for the first time on the page 6 of the Leadership Newspaper of 14th June 2012. The said letter was never delivered to my office and hence was never received by my office neither here in the National Assembly nor in my constituency office or delivered to me Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba hand-to-hand!” he told journalists.
The Representative concluded that Lawan was rather rattled by the revelation of the bribery scandal, as a result of which, confused and highly tense, he “picked up his pen and paper at an un-godly hour of 03:47am, wrote a letter (or so he claimed), as an after-thought, to the effect that he forgot to deliver the letter to the intended recipient, but rather chose to give it to a newspaper reporter and the Police Special Task Force (STF).”
Drawing attention to the point that Mr. Lawan had initially denied ever demanding and collecting any bribe only to later own up to taking the bribe money as an "exhibit," he stressed he was never in possession of the sum of USD620, 000 or any other exhibits in his personal capacity or official capacity as Chairman House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, relating to the subject matter in the investigation.
He challenged Lawan to produce an authentic acknowledged copy of his letter, or else stop dragging his name in the mud.