by Hauwa Gambo
We wish these were an aberration in Nigerian politics, but what Honourable Farouk Lawan told the House of Representatives yesterday is usual fare.
Punch today reports details of the testimonies of the suspended chairman of the House Committee on Monitoring of Subsidy Regime. Mr. Lawan admitted taking “money” from oil chief Femi Otedola, but gee, it wasn’t a bribe.
Lawan had appeared before the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Thursday.
The committee, which is investigating the $620,000 bribery allegation, is headed by Mr. Gambo Musa.
Findings indicated that the panel grilled the former Chairman, House Committee on Education for over fours hours, starting from 1.07pm.
Investigations showed that before the panel, Lawan tried to draw a distinction between money and a bribe.
He was said to have argued that he took money with the aim of exposing Otedola, not a bribe.
A source, who was privy to the details of the testimonies, said, “He told the committee that he took money to expose Otedola, as different from a bribe.
“In the statement he issued, where he admitted taking the money, he drew the attention of the committee to the fact that he was careful with his choice of words.
“Bribe was not mentioned in the statement, but money. Money he took to expose Otedola.”
Lawan reportedly tendered text messages and call logs to the panel as evidence that he did not initiate the transaction between Otedola and himself.
“From what he tendered, it seemed the transaction was not initiated by him.
“So, what the committee has decided to do is to confront the other parties to the case with the information Lawan has divulged”, the source, who pleaded anonymity, added.
Asked whether Lawan was in possession of the $620,000, the source said he replied that “a lot more information will be made available as the police and other agencies continu with their investigations. The truth is there.”
The source explained that because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, the committee later reasoned that it was not wise to make the inquiry public.
“Lawan has information and documents; he has text messages; he has call logs and other evidence.
“The committee didn’t want other witnesses to take advantage of a public appearance and work on their own testimonies.
“The committee wants to throw Lawan’s claims on other witnesses to see how they will respond.
“In that way, some conflicting information may come to the fore.
“The other witnesses too will be heard in camera and will be accorded the same protection as Lawan”, the source stated.
Lawan was discharged after four hours of meeting with the panel.
According to the source, the committee resolved to invite him again if the testimonies of other witnesses punctured his claims “or if there is the need to hear from him again.
“Otherwise, the committee is done with him.”
Yeah, we’re done here.