The embattled former chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy, Mr. Farouk Lawan, has told the police that quizzed and detained him for two days, that the $500,000 he collected from an oil baron, Mr. Femi Otedola, was with a top member of the House.
His accomplice and secretary of the committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, reportedly collected $120,000.
Consequently, the police have written to the Speaker of the House, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, to prevail on the concerned lawmaker to release the money on Tuesday, when the House resumes sitting.
It was gathered that the letter, which had been written would be delivered on Tuesday when the House would resume sitting.
A highly placed police source, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, also disclosed that the police recovered only $10,000, during a search at Lawan’s Abuja residence.
It was also gathered that $8,000 was recovered from the house of Mr. Boniface Emenalo, who served as secretary of the Ad hoc probe panel.
However, Farouk was released on bail on Saturday around 4pm, after signing an undertaking to cooperate with the police on the release of the money.
According to the police source, the decision to write the Speaker followed Lawan’s claim that the money was not with him, but was in the custody of somebody in the house.
He said, “After undergoing intense interrogation, Lawan told investigators that the money is not with him. He claimed to have kept it with a lawmaker in the House.
“So, the acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, directed that a letter should be written to Speaker Tambuwal to demand the money.”
The Special Task Force handling the investigation was said to have put more pressure on the lawmaker before he admitted keeping the money with a member of the House.
Lawmakers, who spoke during the House emergency session on the bribery scandal on Friday, had warned security agencies against impugning the integrity of the house.
The House therefore, said Lawan was on his own, just as it stripped him of the chairmanships of the Ad hoc committee and the standing commmittee on Education.
But reacting to Lawan’s alleged claim, the spokesman of the House, Mr. Zakari Muhammed on Saturday evening tersely said, “There is no money with us in the House. I can confirm that.”
Also, the source decried the operational error of security agents involved in monitoring Lawan when he collected the money.
He said that the security agents should have recovered the money immediately he collected it.
Otedola had in an interview with a daily newspaper, said he involved the State Security Service in what he described as “sting operation.”
The source said, “The problem we are facing now is the recovery of the exhibit money. I think there was an operational error by the security agency that handled the operation.
“The money should have been recovered from Lawan and his accomplice, Emenalo immediately.
“Now that Lawan said the money is with the House, we will get across to the leadership by Tuesday when it might have reconvened.”
When our correspondent contacted the Police Public Relations, Mr. Frank Mba, on Lawan’s stance on the matter, he only confirmed his temporary freedom.
Mba said, “Yes, we have released him on bail. He will return next week and investigations will continue until this matter is thoroughly resolved.
But it was learnt late Saturday that Otedola would sue the House for including Zenon Oil in the list of those who collected foreign exchange to import fuel but failed to do so.
One of his aides, who craved anonymity, told one of our correspondents that the business mogul was consulting his lawyers on a legal response to the matter.
One of the consultations took place on Saturday in Lagos.
The aide said, “He is considering suing the House. They are trying to get back at him; so, he is talking to his lawyers on the possibility of seeking legal redress.”