I accepted Otedola's $100,000 bribe to nail him, Emenalo tells court
THE former Secretary of then House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, on Tuesday said he accepted $100,000 from oil oil magnet, Mr. Femi Otedola, in 2012 in order to expose him.
Emenalo told a a High Court of the Federal Capital territory (FCT) in Lugbe, Abuja, that the money which was part of $3 million bribe money allegedly promised members of the committee by the businessman with the intention of exposing his plot to influence the outcome of their investigation.
Emenalo, who the prosecution later substituted as its witness, leaving only Lawan as the accused, spoke while testifying in Lawan's trial.
The former secretary of the adhoc committee said he collected the $100,000 bribe money from Otedola in $100 bills. Under cross-examination by Lawan's lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Emenalo maintained that he collected the $100,000 as exhibit against Otedola.
According to him, the first meeting he had with Otedola was on Sunday, April 22, 2012, with a follow-up meeting between them on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at the oil mogul's Abuja residence at Aso Drive, Maitama. He told the court that he subsequently handed the money over to Lawan as exhibit.
Lawan is facing prosecution by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for allegedly “corruptly” collecting $500,000 out of the $3 million bribe he requested from Otedola.
Lawan, in the case which made headlines in 2012, is accused of accepting the bribe in exchange for the removal of Otedola's company's name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the list of firms indicted by the House committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
Emenalo had on March 7, given details of how he collected the $100,000 from Otedola in $100 bills.
He however denied some of the allegations against Lawan by the prosecution, while answering questions from Lawan’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), undr cross examination.
He told the court that the first meeting he had with Otedola was on Sunday, April 22, 2012, with a follow-up meeting between them on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at the oil mogul's Abuja residence at Aso Drive, Maitama. He told the court that he subsequently handed the money over to Lawan as exhibit.
He said at his first meeting with Otedola, they had discussions on issues, including those relating to the work of the committee and areas he (Otedola) could make suggestions. Emenalo denied receiving $20,000 bribe from Otedola during their first meeting.
The witness confirmed that it was during the second meeting that Otedola gave him the $100,000, which he claimed to have handed to Lawan as exhibit.
When asked to read part of the two statements he made to the police during the investigation, he insisted that Otedola gave the money to him as a bribe.
The statements, one of which was dated June 14, 2012, and the other undated, were tendered by Ozekhome and admitted as exhibits without any objection from the prosecuting lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).
Emenalo confirmed that Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd belonging to Otedola was one of the companies indicted by the ad-hoc committee for obtaining foreign exchange for importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) under the fuel subsidy scheme, but diverted it.
He said Zenon got $232,975,385.13 foreign exchange, but failed to use the money for fuel importation.
The witness added that Otedola wrote a complaint letter to the secretariat of the committee on April 18, 2012, asking for his company's name to be removed from the list of indicted firms. He said his committee could not do anything on his case, because by then, the report had been submitted on the floor of the House.
Emenalo denied calling the then Managing Director of Zenon Petroleum, Kareem Otaru, to ask for direction to Otedola's house.
When told that Otaru had claimed in his statement that that he (the witness), was the one who called to ask for direction to Otedola's house, Emenalo said: “Never; I did not call him. He was the one who called me. I will be very surprised if he said I called him, asking for Mr. Otedola's house.”
The witness also denied collecting Otedola's phone number from Otaru.
Emenalo concluded his evidence yesterday when defence lawyer, Ozekhome, told the court he was through with his cross-examination of the witness.
Justice Ataluka adjourned proceedings for Wednesday at the instance of prosecution who told the court that his other witnesses were not in court.
Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Offences Commission is trying Lawan over allegtions that he received the sum of $500,000 from Otedola after demanding $3 million from the oil magnate.
ICPC’s charges against Lawan read: “That you Hon Farouk Lawan (M) being member of the house of representatives and chairman house committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime sometime in April 2012 or thereabout at Abuja within the federal capital territory under the jurisdiction of this honourable court did, while acting in the course of your official duty corruptly asked for the sum of $3,000, 000 from Mr. Femi Otedola, chairman Zenon Petroleum and Gas LTD on account of intention to afterwards show favour to the said Mr Femi Otedola by removing the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas LTD from the report of the house of representatives ad-hoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime and you thereby committee an offence contrary to section 8 (1) (a) of The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 8 (1) of the same Act.”
Count three read: “That you Hon. Farouk Lawan (M) while being a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime sometimes in April 2012 or thereabout at Abuja within the Federal Capital Territory under the jurisdiction of this honorable court did while acting in the course of your official duty corruptly obtained the sum of $500,000 (five hundred thousand US dollars ) for yourself from Mr. Femi Otedola Chairman Zenon petroleum and Gas Limited as an inducement to remove the name of Zenon petroleum and Gas Limited from the report of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17 (1) (a) of The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section (17)(1) of the same Act.”