By KINGSLEY OMONOBI, Abuja
Detectives at the Police headquarters investigating the $620, 000 oil subsidy bribe money collected by erstwhile chairman of the House of Representatives Subsidy Probe Panel, Hon. Farouk Lawan from oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, at the weekend disclosed to Vanguard that the decision of the Police not to stand in the way of the embattled Farouk travelling out of the country on religious grounds, followed his keeping to the terms of his bail conditions.
Aside reporting to the Police Special Task Force on two times daily basis, or whenever his presence was needed to shed more light on some issues, Farouk Lawan is said to have wept in one instance when it dawned on him that he had been abandoned by his colleagues to swim alone and was neck deep in the bribery allegation and that it will take close to a miracle to escape the consequences.
When the issue of his travelling for pilgrimage ‘Umrah’ came up, the authorities studied his conduct and analyzed his willingness to cooperate with the bribery investigation. In most cases, all the addresses, information needed from him were provided and were found to be true; the only exception being that he regretted that his colleagues in the house, disappointed him when the $620, 000 which he claimed he kept in the house was not forthcoming.
It was gathered however that a specific time frame within which the embattled former chairman would perform his religious obligation and return to the country, was agreed and signed, and failure to keep to the agreement would lead to ‘certain actions’, the source said.
Vanguard was made to understand that up until when the investigation was concluded last week and the report submitted to the Attorney-General’s office for legal advice, Farouk had continued to insist that his colleagues would bring the money to him to hand over to the police.
It would be recalled that Vanguard reported last weekend that authorities of the Special Task Force investigating the $620, 000 bribery scandal concluded the investigation, had written its final report and submitted the case file to the Attorney- General’s office.
Consequently, Hon. Farouk Lawan who has been in the eye of the storm over the bribery allegation, is set to face a 15 count charge of conspiracy, bribery, corruption, and lying under oath among others.
However, contrary to the widely held belief that going by the provisions of the law, the giver and taker of bribe are liable to face criminal charges, Vanguard gathered that Chief Femi Otedola who gave the bribe might be a prosecution witness if the recommendations of the investigation report is approved by the Attorney-General.
While intimating Vanguard of a watertight case file owing to the fact that painstaking steps had been taken to plug any envisaged loophole in the report, sources disclosed that it will be difficult for the defence lawyers to arm-twist both Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo the secretary of the committee from complicity in the allegation.
Vanguard gathered that among new addition to the charges included in the case file, were attachments detailing how Farouk Lawan collected and concealed the bribe monies from both the House Committee on Subsidy probe and the ploy to deceive investigators that he handed over the money to the chairman of the Financial Crimes Committee for safe keeping.
Asked if the non recovery of the hard cash of $620, 000 would not stand in the way of nailing the culprits in the scam, a source said, the Police is very optimistic that even though the $620,000 was not returned to be used as exhibit, there is overwhelming evidence to get conviction for the duo.
Recall that Hon. Lawan claimed in his statement to the Special Task Force (STF) that the $620,000 bribery money was handed over to the chairman House Committee on drugs and financial crimes, Adams Jagaba. Jagaba however rubbished the claim and challenged Lawan to prove how the money was given to him which he (Lawan) has so far failed to do.