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FaroukGate: Otedola denied releasing audio tape to media house – Lawmaker
A member of the House of Rresentatives Ethics and Privileges Committee, Hon. Ibrahim Bello at the weekend said that Chairman Zenon Oil, Mr. Femi Otedola denied releasing the audio tape of his purported telephone conversation with Hon Farouk Lawan to media station. Bello, who disclosed this to newsmen said when the committee asked Otedola how the media got the audio tape, the Oil Magante quickly denied releasing the tape and also claimed that he had never discuss it with anyone.
The Lawmaker said: “When we asked him about the audio clip, he told us to even summon the media house and demand how they came about the tape.
“He denied the audio clip. All he said at the meeting was that Farouk Lawan lied four times and that’s all. What I am saying is on record and we have it.
It will be recalled that the House Committee is probing the $620,000 bribe for-clearance allegation between Lawan and Otedola.
Otedola has accused Lawan, the chair of the House ad-hoc committee that probed the subsidy management fund of demanding bribe to get his company’s name off the list of those who got foreign exchange but imported no fuel.
Bello, however, said rules are meant to be followed, irrespective of status, which is responsible for the insistence of the Committee to hold its sessions behind closed-doors
He said: “Nobody can come and bend our rules. We don’t have any business with Otedola. I said it before his lawyer, who told him not to talk with us and answer our questions. He was only a witness before us and we told him categorically. We have ten lawyers in the ethics and privileges committe
“But he came with a Senior Advocate who sat beside him and told him not to answer our questions. He didn’t know that Otedola was only a witness before us and we told him categorically
“But the position of the Nigerian law as at today is that he who gives graft and he who receives are both culprits. You are not a member of the parliament and you were alleged to have given one of us something which is illicit, then, you are the best person to come before the Committee and tell us the true position of what transpired before you and him”.
Bello said the importance of the case would not give room for laxity as the integrity of the House as an institution is at stake.
“This particular issue is a unique case. As a committee, our business is the conduct of affairs of our members. But this matter is unique because it involves somebody who gave and somebody who took. The allegation is that somebody who is not a parliamentarian gave to a parliamentarian.
“And we in the parliament want to ascertain the veracity of the claim. Are we going to import a demon to come and find out what transpired between Otedola and Lawan?”
“It’s a matter whereby the onus is on Otedola to come before us and give us justification testifying to the fact that truly he gave Lawan graft because he is an accused person too by virtue of our laws. So, can you see the fallacy in this country? We don’t know who is protecting the accused person here.
“He (Lawan) came and we interrogated him for almost four hours after giving his testimony he left, with the arrangement that whenever we need his presence he will come back. Now he (Otedola)is insisting that we should go into a public hearing”.