by Stanley Azuakola
The Nigeria Police Force is in a tight fix. A suspect, who has admitted to receiving bribes of about $620, 000, has refused to turn in the money. If this suspect was a common criminal or an ordinary man with low standing in society, he probably would have been pummelled into submission. The suspect is however a ranking member of the Federal House of Representatives, a man who during his two months in the spotlight wielded so much power that some even linked his name with a 2015 presidential run—Farouk Lawan.
Lawan was at the Police Headquarters yet again on Monday. Reporting regularly at the Police Force headquarters is one of the conditions attached to his release from detention by the police. However, the only thing Lawan and his co-suspect Boniface Emenalo showed up with was a bevy of lawyers. There was no sign of the $620, 000.
ThisDay newspaper is however reporting that Lawan has pleaded with the investigators to let him attend the house plenary session today (Tuesday) where he’s expected to meet with and retrieve the money from the House Committee Chairman on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Hon Adam Jagaba.
However, bearing in mind that Jagaban has denied being in possession of the said sum, it is unclear how Lawan expects to retrieve the money from him.
Another big question is why Lawan has to go to a sitting of the house to retrieve the money when he did not collect the money or hand it over to Jagaban during a house sitting.
The main explanation for embattled lawmaker’s request to attend the House sitting today is that Lawan presumably wishes to tell his own side of the story to his colleagues by raising it as a matter of privilege during the sitting. He was absent at the emergency sitting last Friday when the issue was tabled before the house, leading to his suspension as chairman of the ad hoc committee investigating the fuel subsidy and the appointment of Hon John Enoh as his replacement.
The Police Force is considering the option of employing a tougher strategy in their efforts to retrieve the cash.
Meanwhile the Inspector-General has ordered the detention of three policemen –a superintendent and two corporals—for their role in allegedly allowing Farouk Lawan go home at night, for the three days he was in detention.
While the papers and Nigerians assumed that Lawan had spent those nights in police custody, he apparently did not spend Thursday and Friday nights there as the officers allegedly chauffeured him to his Apo residence at night and returned him to custody early in the morning. This clearly violated police rules and regulations.
The detained officers said they were acting on the instructions of someone with higher authority but the said person has reportedly disowned them.
It was learnt that the Commissioner in charge of the Special Task Force, Ali Ahmadu, was the one who discovered the security breach and reported the incident to the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, who promptly ordered the arrest of the officers.
A source said, “The three policemen are now in detention for flouting police rules on handling of suspects in detention and they are going to pay for it.”