Lawan, the suspended chairman of the Ad hoc Committee of the House on Fuel Subsidy Management, is being separately investigated by the security agencies and the House Committee on Ethics in respect of oil merchant, Mr. Femi Otedola’s claim that the Rep extorted $620,000 from him for the purpose of removing the names of his oil companies from the list of firms indicted for collecting subsidy for fuel not supplied.
A source close to Lawan’s defence team said: “Some of these forces have cunningly come up with such sentiments as ‘Why are you the one defending Lawan?’, ‘Have you not considered the ethical and moral aspects?’, ‘What will you gain by doing that?’, ‘Don’t you think you are running against public opinion?’
“But we have maintained that it is the constitutional right of any accused person to be defended. Section 36 of the Constitution guarantees the right to be defended. If Otedola has his own team of lawyers, why can’t Lawan?
“Any lawyer who has sworn to an oath cannot back out of a case because of the opinion of a section of the public. There are many Nigerians who have supported Otedola and many who are backing Lawan.
“We have told these forces to allow the court to have the final say. It is the court that will determine who is guilty or not. And the case cannot affect our integrity in any manner.”
The lawyers have also convened a special session to review the audio tapes on the alleged $620,000 bribery transaction between Lawan and Otedola.
The tapes were aired last Monday and Tuesday by Channels television with Lawan claiming the second part was animated.
The lawyers’ session to review the tapes will be held in Abuja on Monday or Tuesday.
Investigation revealed that the airing of the audio tapes prompted the lawyers to return to the drawing table with a view to looking for forensic and legal loopholes in the bribery saga.
Members of the team are Rickey Tarfa (SAN), Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Israel Olorundare (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Sam Ologunorisa (SAN).
One of the counsel said: “The airing of the tapes has raised the stake. We in the defence team are meeting on Monday or Tuesday in Abuja on forensic and legal issues emerging from the tapes.
“We have more than 50 posers to raise on the audio tapes. That is why we are going to hold a technical session.”
The Police Special Task Force has already raised a team to quiz the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Mr. Adam Jagaba, on the alleged bribe.
Jagaba, who travelled to South Africa for a conference, has been mentioned as being in possession of the $620,000. He has denied it.
Said a police source: “We are set for Jagaba, based on the assurance of the Speaker that the affected member will appear before the police next week.
“We have a standby team that will quiz him. We hope that he will not have an excuse to ignore this latest invitation.”
Jagaba had in a response to a letter from the Speaker of the House of Representatives said: “I wish to categorically and unequivocally state that there was never a time I was in possession of the sum of $620,000 or any other exhibit (in my personal capacity or official capacity as Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes) relating to the subject matter of the above investigation.”