The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges yesterday quizzed the former chairman of the ad hoc committee on subsidy regime management, Hon. Farouk Lawan, over allegations of $620,000 bribery levelled against him by oil magnate, Femi Otedola.
The committee also summoned Femi Otedola to appear before it on July 3 to substantiate his allegations.
The media was however not allowed to cover the investigation as the ethics and privileges committee chairman, Hon. Gambo Musa, explained that the exercise was not a “public hearing.”
Defending holding the investigation in secret, the chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, told reporters at a separate press conference that the House directed the committee to do so in order to avoid jeopardising the other investigations being conducted by law enforcement agencies on the same matter.
Zakari explained that if the committee is allowed to conduct the probe in the open, some persons who were equally affected might use information provided by Lawan to their advantage.
Lawan had arrived the venue of the investigation at 1.07 pm, although the event was slated to begin at 12.30 pm.
Farouk, dressed in a all-white traditional attire called babbanriga with skull cap to match, was not accompanied by anybody.
On sighting the large number of journalists at the venue, Lawan exclaimed: “Is it a full House, Chairman?”
In his opening address, the ethic chairman assured that his committee would “carry out its assignment with a very high sense of commitment. We shall strive to be fair and just to all parties involved.”
After the opening speech, journalists were ordered to vacate the Committee Room 459, venue of the investigation.
It will be recalled that Lawan was relieved of his position as the Chairman of the House Education Committee and the ad hoc committee on subsidy following the allegation by Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd that he demanded a bribe of $3 million. Otedola had claimed that he paid $620,000 to Lawan.
Lawan had initially denied the allegation, but later agreed that he personally collected $500,000 from Otedola, while the Clerk of the Committee, Mr Boniface Emenalo, also notified him of collecting $120,000.
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