$3m bribery scam: Otedola sues Tambuwal, Lawan, two others for N250b

A businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola and his company, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited have sued House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and the suspended Chairman of the House Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Farouk Lawan, for N250billion.
Also joined in the suit filed in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory are the Clerk of the National Assembly and the National Assembly.
The two plaintiffs also vowed to expose how a $3million bribe was demanded from them by the first defendant, Farouk Lawan.
In the court papers obtained by our correspondent, Otedola and his company gave details on the bribery saga between them and Lawan.
The plaintiffs claim against the defendants jointly and severally as follows:
The sum of N100billion as general damages for the alleged acts of intimidation, loss of goodwill and patronage occasioned by the acts of the defendants.
The sum of N150billion as exemplary damages for their oppressive and arbitrary action
In the statement of claim filed by Babajide Koku(SAN) and seven others who are the counsel to Otedola and Zenon Oil, the plaintiffs said they shall “at the trial rely on all call logs, audio-visual records of conversations and/ or meetings held with the first defendant (Lawan) in proof of the case.”
They also gave an in-depth insight into how the bribery deal was struck.
The statement of claim reads in part: “The Ad Hoc Committee set up by the 2nd and 3rd defendants contacted the second plaintiff(Otedola) and informed him that the first plaintiff(Zenon) was going to be indicted by the Ad Hoc Committee for purchasing foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without importing petroleum products unless the plaintiff parted with a bribe of US$3million.
“The Second Plaintiff(Otedola) took pains to explain to Lawan that there was no basis for any such demand as it was not possible to purchase foreign exchange from the CBN through reputable first class banks without importing products.
“The second plaintiff(Otedola) called Lawan’s bluff. To the consternation of the plaintiffs, the first defendant(Lawan) persisted in making calls to the second plaintiff(Otedola) threatening to include the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas in the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee which was about to be laid before the third defendant(The Clerk of the National Assembly). With findings and recommendations grossly adverse to the interest and corporate image of Zenon Petroleum and Gas unless Lawan’s demand for payment was made.
“Lawan continued to make harassing phone calls to Otedola calculated at intimidating the plaintiffs to meet the unlawful demand of the first defendant(Lawan) for bribe.
“Otedola, faced with Lawan’s unrelenting barrage of intimidating calls became distressed and contacted the security agencies to report Lawan’s unlawful conduct.
“The plaintiffs were advised by the security agencies to play along and handover marked notes to the first defendant(Lawan) and his cohorts for the purpose of gathering evidence of their nefarious activities.
“On the 18th of April, 2012, Lawan presented and/or laid the report of the Ad Hoc before the 3rd defendant(the Clerk of the National Assembly) indicting the first plaintiff(Zenon Petroleum and Gas).”
Otedola explained how the bribe was offered to Lawan and the Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo.
The statement added: “Notwithstanding, Lawan kept harassing the plaintiffs, promising them that he could get the 3rd defendant to delist Zenon Petroleum and Gas name from the report if the US$3million bribe was paid to him by the plaintiffs.
“The plaintiffs, on the advice of security agencies, handed over marked notes totalling US$620,000 to Lawan and the Secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo in the following manner:
“On the 24th April 2012, US$500,000 was handed over to Lawan by Otedola.
“At the request of Lawan, US$120,000 was handed over to Boniface Emenalo by Otedola.
“On the morning of the 24th April 2012, Lawan at the plenary session of the House of Representatives moved the House to delist Zenon Petroleum and Gas from the list of indicted companies which request was granted.
“After the 24th of April, 2012, Lawan persisted in making intimidating phone calls to the plaintiffs, harassing them to pay up the balance of US$2, 380,000.
“As a result of the distress caused to the plaintiffs by Lawan’s persistent calls, the plaintiffs reported the matter to the police which invited Lawan and the plaintiffs for investigations.
“Notwithstanding the ongoing police investigations and Lawan’s admission of receiving money from Otedola, the 2nd(Speaker) and the 4th (National Assembly) conspired to re-list the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas to the list of indicted companies to embarrass the plaintiffs and their corporate and business image.
“The plaintiffs shall contend at trial that the conspiracy by the Speaker and the National Assembly to re-list the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas indicted by the Ad Hoc Committee is without basis, given that the committee’s finding was arrived at without proper verification of documents submitted by the plaintiffs to aid their enquiry.
“The plaintiffs further aver that the action and conduct of the defendants were oppressive and arbitrary and thereby also resulting to their suffering substantial loss to their reputation, goodwill and business.”
Tambuwal filed an objection through Mr. Kehinde Ogunuwuniju from the chamber of Chief Afe Babalola, stating that it is only the Federal High Court that can adjudicate over such matter.
Justice Peter Kekemeke of the Abuja high Court however adjourned the case till November 23.

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