Impeccable sources within the House informed LEADERSHIP last night that the decision to convene the emergency meeting was to allow the House leadership to wash its hands off the embarrassing $3millon bribery allegation trailing the chairman of the House ad hoc committee that probed the fuel subsidy regime, Hon Farouk Lawan.
Already, the lawmakers are sharply divided over what action to be taken against the bribery allegation. While there are those who are canvassing for the outright suspension of Farouk Lawan from the House, some lawmakers are insisting that he must step down as the ad-hoc committee chairman.
Meanwhile another group of the lawmakers are accusing the House leadership of culpability in the matter based on Farouk’s claim that he had intimated the leadership on the alleged bribery, information which the leadership failed to share with their colleagues until the lid blew up.
But due to the fear of roping in the House leadership in the alleged bribery scandal and the need to save the lower chamber’s image from further embarrassment, the leadership decided to hold the emergency session to stop further escalation of the matter.
The decision to convene tomorrow’s meeting followed an emergency meeting of the House leadership which was presided over by the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal in his residence yesterday.
Sources at the meeting informed LEADERSHIP that different strategies were discussed on how to handle the emergency session, because of the possible fear of a stormy session arising from aggrieved members who may want tougher sanction against errant lawmakers.
Reps hold emergency session tomorrow
As pressure mounts on the leadership of the House of Representatives over bribery allegations against the chairman of its ad-hoc committee on the investigation of fuel subsidy, Hon. Farouk Lawan, the House yesterday summoned its members for an emergency session slated for tomorrow.
This implies that the lawmakers have cancelled their two-week recess which was supposed to end on Tuesday next week.
LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported on Tuesday that the leadership of the House was considering convening an emergency session to address the bribery scandal rocking the House and that top on the resolutions the House may take is to suspend the lawmaker from handling the affairs of the committee.
The lawmakers, LEADERSHIP also reported, plan to announce that they stand by the recommendations of the subsidy probe report as adopted by the House.
The notification of tomorrow’s special sitting was conveyed from the office of the clerk of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, in a terse statement dispatched to federal lawmakers and obtained by LEADERSHIP.
It was silent on the urgent matter necessitating the emergency session, but our checks revealed that is connected to the latest $3million bribery scandal rocking the Ad-Hoc committee that investigated the federal government’s fuel subsidy regime.
Entitled “Special Announcement”, the statement signed by Sani-Omolori reads: “This is to inform all Honourable members of the House of Representatives that the House would reconvene to hold a Plenary session on Friday, June 15th, 2012, at 10am prompt. Honourable Members are advised to take note and attend promptly, please.”
Mr Femi Otedola, one of the marketers whose companies were investigated by the committee, had in an interview with a national newspaper on Monday, said the Lower House’s subsidy panel chair, Lawan and the secretary of the committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, had collected $620,000 from him in a sting operation masterminded by security agencies.
The last time the representatives convened an emergency session was on January 9, this year, in the aftermath of President Goodluck Jonathan’s January 1, 2012, removal of fuel subsidy.
That session led to the constitution of the subsidy probe committee which is now under the radar for inducement.
I alerted House – Lawan
Meanwhile, the embattled chairman of the Ad-hoc committee on the management of petroleum subsidy, Hon. Farouk Lawan, has insisted that he alerted the House to the persistent overtures by the chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola, to compromise him and members of the committee.
The lawmaker’s insistence is premised on a letter of April 24, 2012, addressed to the chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Hon. Adams Jagaba, entitled: “Offer of Monetary Inducement by Femi Otedola to Influence Committee Report.”
In the letter to which was attached the sum of $500,000, Lawan said that he had earlier intimated the chairman of the persistence of Mr. Otedola with offer of monetary inducement to influence the outcome of the consideration of the report of the ad-hoc committee on petroleum subsidy.
The letter reads in part: “You may please recall that I intimated you of the persistence of Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman, Forte Oil, Zenon Oil and AD Petroleum to offer monetary inducement to influence the outcome of the consideration of the report of the Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy.
“Attached is the sum of five hundred thousand dollars only offered to me with another promise two million, four hundred thousand dollars.
I had considered bringing this issue as a matter of privilege on the floor of the House later today when the House sits, but I am concerned the controversy it will generate will dwarf the contents of the report, which needs public attention so that the necessary reforms in the sector could be effected.
“I, however, believe that, given the desperation of Mr Otedola, handling this matter in a firm but diplomatic manner is necessary as he has also made some veiled threat which put me and members of my Committee in a delicate situation.
Farouk Lawan shuns Police invitation
Meanwhile, Lawan, yesterday failed to show up at the police headquarters to honour an invitation by the police over an alleged bribery scam.
Lawan, who was accused of demanding $3million bribe from Otedola, was given a 72-hour ultimatum to appear before a special task force set up to investigate the allegations.