Fuel Subsidy Probe: Oil Biz Magnate, Femi Otedola Confirms Bribe to Lawmakers-THISDAY Newspaper

Femi Otedola and President Goodluck Jonathan
By Yemi Ajayi in Lagos, Ike Abonyi, Onwuka Nzeshi and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

 

The full details of the $3 million bribery scandal involving members of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on the Fuel Subsidy probe were revealed yesterday, as one of the major actors in the scandal has opened up on what transpired.

 

In an exclusive interview with THISDAY, chairman, Zenon Petroleum & Gas Ltd, Mr. Femi Otedola, who hitherto was suspected of being behind the $3 million bribery scandal, blew the lid on what transpired and how chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Hon. Farouk Lawan, and the secretary of the committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, had collected $620,000 from him in a sting operation masterminded by the security agencies.

 

The amount was part payment for the $3 million, which he alleged Lawan had demanded from him to exonerate Zenon Oil from the ad-hoc committee’s report.

 

As the scandal unfolds, it was learnt that operatives of the State Security Services have sent a video recording of the incident to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for further scrutiny and action.

 

Otedola, who was opening up on the issue for the first time, narrated how Lawan at the outset of the probe had approached him to get some insight into the workings of the downstream oil and gas sector.

 

Otedola said he obliged him and ensured that his managing directors of Forte Oil Plc and Zenon Oil appeared at the subsidy probe during its public hearing after both companies had been invited by the committee.

 

During the probe, he said the committee was informed in no uncertain terms that Zenon does not and has never made claims for subsidy payments from the federal government, as the company was engaged solely in the importation of diesel, a product that is not subsidised.

Zenon’s managing director, Mr. Kanmi Kareem Otaru, during the probe had denied that the company had anything to do with the subsidy regime. He told the committee, “For the avoidance of doubt Zenon never participated or benefited from the subsidy scheme or Petroleum Support Fund (PSF).”

 

According to him, going by the Act which established the PSF scheme, “Zenon couldn’t participate in it because we don’t have a network of PMS retail outlets which was one of the key criteria beneficiaries must meet and as such we are not qualified to participate to draw from subsidy payments on PMS. So we never collected as records will show.” 

 

Irrespective of the clarification made at the hearing, Otedola said Lawan still approached him a few days before the report was to be tabled on April 18, 2012 before the House of Representatives, demanding money so that Zenon’s name will be kept out of the report.

“When this happened, I was very angry and reminded him that Zenon has never participated in the subsidy scheme and that it would be criminal to rope in the company for something it did not do.

 

“But Lawan responded, stating that several other marketers were playing ball and had offered the members of the committee large sums of money to ensure that their companies’ names were not published in the report,” he added.

 

Otedola, said initially he balked at Lawan’s attempt to extort money from him and told the legislator that he would not pay up, as Zenon had not committed any crime.

 

“Then a day before the report was to be submitted, Lawan called again, informing me that Zenon’s name had been included in the report.

“I, of course, was very angry and asked him to desist from his course of action, but Lawan insisted that I must pay up as other oil marketers had done before me.”

 

Otedola said he could not believe his eyes the next day when the report came out and Zenon’s name had been listed under the category of companies that had bought foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but had not imported petrol.

 

The amount ascribed to Zenon in the report was $232,975,385.13. The report had recommended that Zenon and 14 other marketers that had bought the foreign exchange be referred to the anti-corruption agencies to determine what they used the monies for.

Otedola said at this point he again called Lawan demanding that Zenon’s name be removed from the list, as there was no way his company could have bought that volume of foreign exchange without importing products.

 

“I reminded him that the amount ascribed to Zenon was wrong as what the company bought was over $400 million for importation of products through the banks – Zenith, UBA and GTB – and that under Sanusi (CBN governor) there was no way anyone could have bought that quantity of foreign exchange and not imported the products having filled the Form M.

 

“Sanusi will simply clamp down on anyone who tries to pull that kind of stunt,” he said.

In spite of this, Otedola said Lawan still demanded that the members of the committee be given money in exchange for removing Zenon’s name from the report before it is considered in plenary by the entire House.

 

Otedola said he then asked how much would be required to make the committee happy, to which Lawan responded $3 million.

“I screamed at him, demanding to know why he was doing this to me. All he said was other marketers were paying up to keep their names out of the report so I should do likewise,” he said.

 

Otedola revealed that it was this point he decided to involve the security agencies to catch Lawan and his committee with their hands in the till.

 

According to him, “As a law-abiding citizen, I decided to involve the security agencies and they advised me to play along, which prompted me to offer to pay part of the money with the promise that I would pay the balance when my company’s name had been removed from the report."

 

The security agencies, he disclosed, gave him serialised dollar bills for the sting job and there are call logs, video and audio recordings in the possession of the agencies to confirm all that had transpired between himself and Lawan.

 

He said on April 21, the Saturday before the plenary, Lawan came in person to his residence and collected $250,000 in cash, as the first instalment, “then the next Monday night he came and collected another $250,000.

 

“On Tuesday, at 9am, just before the House commenced seating, Boniface came and collected another $120,000.”

Otedola confirmed that during the sting, Lawan and Boniface collected a total of $620,000 in three instalments as part of the $3 million demanded from him.

 

He added that with the $620,000 that had been extorted by Lawan and the committee, during the plenary, Zenon’s name was removed from the list of companies that had bought foreign exchange but did not import products.

 

Otedola continued: “He (Lawan) now asked for the balance of $2.5 million, but when I told him that I had no money now that the money was in Lagos, he suggested that I should charter a plane to fly the money from Lagos to Abuja.”

 

Otedola stressed that his decision to get the law enforcement and security agencies involved stemmed from the fact that he had not broken any law, maintaining that as a law-abiding citizen, he was saddened by the fact that he was being blackmailed by of all people, members of the legislature.

 

“If you have information that an armed robber is come to raid your home, won’t you notify the police?  So, that was the purpose of the sting operation.

 

“Besides, my integrity is paramount to me. I started selling petroleum products 14 years ago in drums and somebody who has never run a petrol station is trying to blackmail and extort money from me.

“If others (marketers) have paid money, maybe they are guilty. But I did not do anything wrong, so why should they extort money from me? As a law-abiding citizen, I had to involve the security agencies. Indeed, I’m very disappointed because I have worked hard to build my business.”

 

Insisting that he had nothing to hide or fear over what had happened, Otedola maintained if he was in the wrong he would not have involved the security agencies in the first instance.

 

In a reference to the strong denials made by Lawan since the scandal became public, Otedola stated, “When he (Lawan) demanded the bribe, I called the agencies. That is because I had nothing to hide. When the bribe was paid, why did he not call and report it to the agencies if he had nothing to.”

 

Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered that the videotape of the illicit transaction had been sent to the EFCC to investigate the incident. 

When contacted, the EFCC, however, said it had neither received the videotape nor had it commenced investigations into the bribery scandal.

 

EFCC Head of the Media Unit, Mr. Wilson Uwugiaren, said the allegation had not been brought to the knowledge of the commission.

 

According to him, the only related matter currently being handled by the EFCC was the report of the ad-hoc committee that the commission was studying to establish the facts and track down anyone found culpable for the alleged mismanagement of the PSF.

Comments
220 comment(s)
Post a comment

wKcOkVnste

Nigerians should ever be gaeutfrll to president goodluck jonathan. For allowing us to know the degree of rot in our system, these.wickedness have been going on for a very long time and we all seat tight as though nothing is wrong, now is the time for us to take our destiny in our hands, we have enough information and our enemies are well known to us now so let's come together with a common agenda of salvaging our dear country and fight these battle,Nigeria belongs to all of us president Goodluck jonathan resignation is not what we need , let's sincerely stand up against corrupt practices and make Nigeria the best place in the world, we can make it.

the operation was perfectly

the operation was perfectly carried out. from this revelation, Femi does not have any case or blame, he informed the security operatives at every point. who did lawan informed or carry along in order to indict femi? infact another comittee should be set up to thourougly re-ivestigate this subsidy matter.

Rogues every where in the country

It's only in Nigeria that the giver and taker of bribery is not proscuted, but rather only the taker. Rogues are at every level in Nigeria.

Rogues calling others rogues

Sentiment is really killing the nation. Femi otedola, Obasanjo (Father of rogues),Farouk Lawan are all rogues. Obasanjo is calling others thieves while he's the bigest thief. Why is he always deciding who will rule the country if he's clean. He is always picking those that will cover up is dirty deeds. His eight years activities should be investigated. This is not a matter of respect to elders. To santise the nation, all these mentioned individuals should be investigated properly without bias. Enough is Enough where few people are being investigated, while others are ignored.

You have captured it all. God

You have captured it all. God will use them aginst each other to destroy one another sothat nigeria can flourish. Nigeria needs a Saul that will not spare the Amalekites. Who obstructed God plan

As far as the issue of

As far as the issue of lawan-otedola, femi has no case cos he carried the security agencies along. Lawan is a rogue and ashameless person. I wish it were in China where his family will even pay for the bullet for taking his life. Nemesis has finally caught up with him. He is a transparent corrupt criminal like the tinubus, fasholas, obasanjo, jonathan, mark. Whether they like it or not the way they have wasted nigeria their lives and that of their generations shall be wasted

If EFCC denies their

If EFCC denies their involvement 4rm d start as Femi claimed,then he does nt hv a point dn 2 face d law bcos EFCC were surposed 2 knw every detail of d transaction.Both of dm according 2 d law shld b duely punished.

H.R

Abiola,am very proud about the way you spoke on this issue.Armed robber goes to rob another armed robber with one without arms.GJE is just a jew man on site,looking @ a crowed without seeing picture.May God help us.....Boko haram should've be on race with all these high pple than killing poor and innocent citizen.

OCCULTIC IDOITS

the femi otedola i know from suru-lere is a nice guy and gentle.you're jealous of his progress.we're proud of him.desist saying things you don't know about him.in-fact, he lives directly opposite our house in suru-lere.we're proud of him

THUNDER FIRE U AND OTEDOLA.IDOIT .FOR THE PRESIDENT TO THE LEAST IN DT LIST SHALL ALL DIE TERRIBLE DEATH.OCCULTIC IDOITS

Representa-thieves

I can only happen in Nigeria - My dear Country.... Presi-thieves, Minis-thieves Governo-thieves...Commissio-thieves...Looting Government Chair-thieves..Sana-thieves, Representa-thieves and are possible in Nigeria.

I hereby called for desolution of National Assembly immediately. This is looting too many. Is President sleeping ? Tired ? Helpless ? Afraid ? The Dawn of cleansing is here and God will clean all these evil people away.

Femi Otedola Confirms Bribe to Lawmakers-

When OBJ talked, they 'holier than thou' thieves were castigating him on the floor of the assembly. Do we have rogues among the house members or not?
Great OBJ is vindicated.
They should be arrested promptly including any useless lawyer who comes out to defend them on technical grounds. They are both rogues.

IF LAWAN TOOK BRIBE WHO IS A CLEAN NIGERIAN

If it is true that Lawan Farouk took bribe from Otedola you pple in Nigeria should start weeping because there is no true and straightforwad Nigerian any longer.Can you imagine with all the noise he made as chairman of intergrity group in the last assembly that lead to the ouster of ETTE,he still succumbed to temptation of collecting bribe.Otedola in other words should not be taken serious what could he be doing with such huge some of money without importing any thing.Fellow Nigerians it is because of numerous sins against God's people being committed by these group of peolpe that makes God's anger on us seem so severe.When shall we change.

Otedola the bribe giver

Giving and taking a bribe are all crimes. Now the man from the Assembly is saying that he took the money as proof the Otedola was dying to bribe his way out of trouble. whom shall we listen to.

@ blazinfada...na you sabi biko.

are you one of those petty...i mean very petty kinds who will pick at anything to get at somebody. you reek of very bad spirit of jealousy. mr. literate...from a misspelled word, you have inferred i am a semi literate loud mouth. since you have decided to lay a cheap attack on my spelling and in that same vein, call me a semi literate loud mouth. Here you go. you wrote.."We all know Deri's antecedents here on SR, another semi literate loud mouth". a complete sentence followed by fragmented sentence both joined by a comma? are you serious? in fact, the second sentence is a totally new idea...yet you joined it with first. na you sabi...a comma splice, run-on sentence and fragmented sentence all executed on one short sentence. those who live in glass house should not throw stones. by the way, what the fu*k is an egunje?...never mind, you have a literary license to put your shit together anyway you want and the rest of us don't...right?

You, my friend, are clearly

You, my friend, are clearly not a person given to reading the ENTIRE story before going off half cocked. Be a good boy/ girl, go back, read THOROUGHLY, and then come back and comment.

guys, guys, guys. This is

guys, guys, guys. This is real simple.

Look at Farouk: skinny, clearly in dire need of a make over; and those dodgy eyes are clearly that of a dodgy human.
Money is the one thing that would bring a persons true potential for shady business to the fore. And he is in the house of assembly? please. All it takes is a few days of being rubbed off on by those people to guarantee a complete metamorphoses from good to very bad.
He may be a good person, Farouk; He just got in with the wrong crowd or he had all that bad in him just waiting to be unleashed. Human nature. The average Nigerian has a very high potential for a heck of a lot of evil so people, leave off crucifying people and look down at those four extra fingers pointing at thee. I hope the guilty party gets the punishment he deserves.

there!

God have mercy on this

God have mercy on this country.

I thought you did not read

I thought you did not read the full text before you stars commenting,pls it is important for you to do so all the time.
It was stated in the story when Otedola sensed Farouk Lawan was coming up with something,why did he contacted Otedola in the first instance

Jonathan is too naive.........

Our so-called president is too naive to act and had long lost his sense of direction to the people of Nigeria.Scandals here and there has brought his popularity in opinon pols sharp dramatically to all time low .If he is an active man let him press for a vote no confident in the house.The house need to be dissolve.It is better to start again from a clean slate.

open your eyes

we r here shouting OBJ said this,Lawan did that abegi Nigerians open your eyes.Bribery is a crime and some people come out to tell the world that they did it and yet we are here pointing fingers.Open your eyes jor

i dont believe

i dont believe what femi otedola has just said. When security agent uses marked money to arrest a suspect, d suspect would be arrested immediately and the money will be tendered as exhibit. Marked money is a money maked with chemical and immediately anybody touches it, it stains such hands. That type of money must be taken for examination to prove d suspect has actually touched such money. Having allowed suspect to go away with marked money, what will u tendered as evidence now?

The Twin Evil 9

These are just among a few. I read somewhere that the SSS is doing something about the clip. That's a step forward at least for once in our country.

The three of them (GEJ, Otedola and Lawan) are criminals of the highest order and shouldn't be allowed to get away with things. May God give our leaders the boldness to speak the truth at all times and stand by it. May all the crises rocking our dear country Nigeria be quenched as soon as possible. May God touch the hearts of people who psyche innocent individuals into religious extremism which is completely uncalled for. Lastly I pray guides both leaders and followers in doing the right think. So help us God. Amen

These are just among a few. I read somewhere that the SSS is doing something about the clip. That's a step forward at least for once in our country.

the beautiful one are not yet born

This otedola man is wicked.I can still belief lawon can do that; if he did it means there is no one on earth to be trusted.

The Twin Evil 8

Little wonder there is a striking resemblance between GEJ and the so called Otedola. Fathered by Obasanjo, the two are liars and thieves. While Otedola has hijacked the oil and gas sector, GEJ has the government. Unfortunately the masses are the ones suffering from the wrath the two are invoking on our dear country, Nigeria. So Otedola has the guts to come out publicly to say he was asked for $600,000 bribe. What happened to the $230,000,000 subsidy his company syphoned? Little wonder the price of kerosine has come down. So also motor spirit and diesel.

The Twin Evil 7

The culprits should be punished and brought to book no matter who they are. The issue of people quoting Obasanjo as saying the House is curropt does not arise at all. He is the most corrupt Nigerian living on the face of the earth. He so debauched the system that no Nigerian child ever has hope to gain from.

I enjoin on people who are close to God to keep praying just the way a man of God prayed in a church service on corruption but the government delegation including the president (GEJ) refused to answer favourably. That is who our leader is.

ANOTHER FOOLISHNESS

My pity goes to the commoners branded by our people on top, thank God they are not calling you slaves yet.the likes of Tribalistic Ajayi with the NDLEA that posted the how many Anambrarians in the prison all over the world for drog related crimes, I hope u can see the reason why they are taking such risk that will cause their dear life in some of the countries of the world. Due to the corruption of those the illegitimate government officials?
May God have mercy to all of you in the house and in the bush.

The Twin Evil 6

This "dog eat dog" thing is getting far and we need people who are close to well meaning and respectful Nigerians like Wole Soyinka and Maitama Sule among others to help us cry out and tell them there are some Nigerians who are still good and mean well for the country as a whole and these guys should be given the opportunity to stir the activities of sensitive ministries and committees.

In addition, I refuse to comment on some of the meaningless and insensitive comments mostly on this forum but enjoin on Nigerians to see the little sense in what I have said so far.

The Twin Evil 5

The only time we didn't hear of plane crash within the period was when Yar'adu appointed a permanent secretary (Idris Kuta) who was fearless and had a zero tolerance for corruption. Word has it that the directors and top ministry officials even celebrated the removal of the perm sec from the ministry. However history has shown that the said Idris Kuta refused kola (bribe) from airlines during that year's Hajj operation and that happened to be the only year in years that Nigerian pilgrims were airlifted to and from Saudi without a hitch. Where is the Perm Sec today? Definitely he has been relegated to smaller ministries because he stepped on toes.

The Twin Evil 4

I refused to comment on the Dana plane crash because I couldn't come to terms with it. I read in SR that the past 23 years was riddled was plane crashes. People accuse Babangida till this moment of killing officers, Abacha came and did same, Baba Sege is even a record breaker and title holder 'cos the plane crashes recorded in his tenure in office can't just be handled. I hear the voices of the children who died in PortHarcourt cursing the government till this moment. Now it is Jonathan.

The Federal Ministry of Aviation is said to be one of the most corrupt ministries in Nigeria with people like Demoren in one of its parastatals.

The twin evil 3

7. The lucky seven goes to the current disesteemed and dishonored member of the House, Farouq Lawan who exposed GEJs twin in person of Femi Otedola in the current oil subsidy removal saga. What was he thinking? Is he aware Femi co-sponsored the 2012 elections alongside some shameless Nigerians who told us things will get better?
The issue now is this, if the whole country is made to believe there is a clip, the culprit should be punished accordingly. However we have to revisit Hamza Al-Mustapha's case where he had clips, exposed some prominent ex-Heads of State yet is being punished. Infact the state security had to destroy some of the evidence so as for peace to reign. Or is the judiciary protecting and favouring one of it's own as usual in the case of Justice Fati Abdussalami Abubakar?