The House of Rep Member at the centre of the latest bribery allegation rocking Nigeria’s lower legislative arm, Hon Farouk Lawan has denied taking any bribe.
In a statement read at a press briefing to make his own side of the story known on Sunday, Lawan said “my attention has been drawn to several newspapers and internet stories alleging that a prominent member of the House Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy demanded and received the sum of $600,000.00 as bribe from an oil marketer.
“I wish to categorically deny that I or any member of the committee demanded and received any bribe from anybody in connection with the fuel subsidy probe and I believe this is evident from the thorough and indepth manner the investigation was carried out and the all encompassing recommendations produced therefrom as approved by the whole House.
“The general public is hereby reminded that during and after the investigations we have severally raised alarm on pressures on us from different quarters. In particular I wish to refer to the front page publication in Leadership Weekend newspaper of 28th April 2012 captioned “Marketers offered subsidy committee plane load of dollars” where we alerted the public that a marketer promised to fly in a jet loaded with US Dollars which he intended to share to both the House Leadership and members of the Adhoc Committee to influence the outcome of the report.
“This clarification is necessary in order to clear all the insinuations being bandied about and more importantly to enable the Government concentrate on the implementation of the report.
“The present mudslinging is not unexpected in view of the calibre of people whose actions and inactions were found wanting in the report. I am aware that in their desperation to discredit the report and divert the attention of the public from the real issues of large scale fraud in high places established in our report, a video footage displaying a caricature of my person allegedly having a dealing with a marketer reminiscent of the military era when dignitaries were invited to the Villa to watch a video clip of a phanthom coup involving Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is already in circulation.
“I wish to assure all Nigerians that the sanctity of our report remains unassailable and it will be in the best interest of the country if the relevant authorities faithfully and conscientiously implement the resolutions of the House. No amount of red herring and cheap blackmail will affect our resolve to continue to act in the best interest of the country with all available information at our disposal. No doubt, the last has not been heard.
“We knew they were going to fight back. We anticipated they were going to employ all kinds of antics to fight us and that is why the Speaker, on the day we submitted the report – I remember the statement made by the Speaker that they were going to fight back and when they fight they fight dirty.
“So we knew there were no antics that they were not going to employ. And so all along we had anticipated this kind of thing. In fact, when we were doing the investigation, there were several threats, even to our lives. There were things we didn’t come out to say but at a point I had to leave this house. For five days I was not coming to this house. That was when we were about to finish the report.
“And when we went for the Easter break, before the break, I raised a copy of the draft. The pressure became so much and at a point I had to leave this country. I had to leave the country because of the pressure from very high persons, from all over. So we knew this thing was going to come. We were only waiting to see from which source. I want assure you this struggle is not about me. The whole motive is to divert attention from the report. If they can divert attention from the report to Farouk Lawan, then they would have succeeded.
“We have a report where we have established cases of fraud of over N 1 trillion. If we had compromised, we couldn’t have done that. All you need is in that report- we were very thorough and detailed. We indicted everyone that needed to be indicted.
“Every approach that was made, we made sure that we briefed the leadership of the House as well as the relevant committees of the House”.
Lawan also debunked statements that he collected some money from oil company executives at the airport in Abuja as he stated at the briefing that he did not collect money from anyone, either at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport or anywhere else. He also alleged that his image in the purported bribery video was doctored.