The House of Representatives on Thursday hit back at businessman, Femi Otedola, who is accused of paying lawmaker, Farouk Lawan, a $620,000 bribe, saying Mr. Otedola was as guilty as Mr. Lawan, and suggesting the House was not convinced the procedure that caught the lawmaker was a sting operation.
A spokesperson said the House believed “the giver (of bribe) is as guilty as the taker,” in a remark that offers an insight into the chamber’s unofficial impression of an episode which rates as one of its most scandalous.
Separately, Mr. Lawan, in his first appearance at the House chambers since the scandal broke out two weeks ago, said he was convinced he will be “vindicated” in the end.
The lawmaker, who has been removed as the head of two House committees, has admitted receiving the amount, but insists it was meant to expose the businessman, and to convince the House of the pressure its committee investigating fuel subsidy fraud, faced.
Police say locating the marked notes is central to its investigations, but the recovery of the bills has set off a blame game between the Mr. Lawan, the House leadership and another member, Adams Jagaba, chairman, House committee on Financial Crimes, earlier said to be in possession of the money.
Mr. Jagaba has denied he received or kept the money in a letter to the speaker, Aminu Tambuwal.
Mr. Lawan showed up at the House midsession on Wednesday, and left minutes later. He later told reporters at an unscheduled briefing he will “prevail” at the end of the episode.
“I think it is important to note that I have been a member of the House of Representatives for the past 13 years, of course together with several other colleagues of mine past and present and we have done so much to build the House of Representatives. It means to show that I should enjoy the respect and confidence of Nigerians,” he said.
He said he had no reservations on his removal as the chairman of the ad hoc committee, and the education committee, and said he had been silent for “strategic” reasons.
“As far as the issue relating to me is concerned, I believe ultimately, I will be vindicated,” the lawmaker said.
“I believe in the end Nigerians will come to believe and see that for the 13 years that I have invested in championing good governance, responsibility and probity in this country that this last trial is a trial from God and I believe in the end we shall prevail.”
The reaction of the House is in response to a statement by Mr. Otedola condemning the re-listing of his company, Zenon oil, for investigations by the lawmakers.
Mr. Otedola described the House decision in a statement on Saturday as a “celebration of corruption”.
At a media conference Thursday, chairman of the House committee on media, Zakari Mohammed, said the businessman was a guilty in offering the money, and said the House remained unconvinced the operation that reportedly caught Mr. Lawan was a sting operation.
“Indeed if what he claims is true, there are procedures for a sting operation,” Mr. Mohammed said.
Of Mr. Otedola, the spokesperson, said, “It is those he befriends who should bury their faces in shame.
“Everybody’s history in this country is known. We know how people started their businesses, we know emergency billionaires.”0