Gradually but steadily, the shock and near sympathy expressed for Hon(?) Farouk Lawan in the wake of the “temptation” he fell into, is being displaced by anger, and public odium with his archetypal insult on public intelligence. As it has become the character of the scandal, Farouk’s version of what happened has continued to suffer modification, a malaise my colleague quaintly described as “upgrading of his lies”.
I am surprised, and in fact disappointed, that a man who should be covered with guilt and remorse for his despicable act, has suddenly become lionized in his public misdemeanor to now kit up for a televised legal duel with his accusers, nay the rest of society.
Has Farouk forgotten that when the snippets of this scandal just broke, he called a press conference, on a Sunday,( he could not even wait for a work day) and with carefully chosen strong words, denied that anything ever happened? The tenor of his statement would even make you feel he had never seen Femi Otedola. He unabashedly dismissed the report as a calculated attempt to discredit the report of his committee. He reminded us that he had indeed raised the alarm that members of the committee were under pressure from marketers to kill the report. He went ahead to discredit the ‘rumour’ by declaring that the so-called images being circulated about him collecting some money from somewhere, was just a “caricature” of his image.
See his statement and mind his strong diction :
“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. “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.
“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 phantom coup involving Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is already in circulation.”
He ended the statement by declaring that “Surely, the last has not been heard of this matter” How prophetic! Indeed, we keep being updated with the ever-changing story of Farouk.
Given his hitherto Mr Integrity mask, many, including this writer, believed him. Twenty four hours after, he turned 360 degrees, by admitting that he indeed collected $500,000 dollars from Otedola, only that the latter, it was, that made the first move and actually offered it.
Next, he modifies the story: he collected the money, but sent a letter with the $500,000 attached, to Hon Adams Jagaba, the House Committee Chairman on Narcotics and Financial crimes to keep as evidence. But till date, Hon Jagaba has denied ever receiving any such letter, or the said money.
While fiddling with any possible story to dry-clean the smelly stain, Farouk became even more ridiculous with his grammar. He admitted taking money, but not bribe. Really? If he took money from the same Otedola, what was it for? What service did he render, or product did he sell Otedola to receive that sum? It was the height of silly defence, a mark of one desperate to lie to cover up a chain of past lies.
Having “categorically” lied that neither he nor any member of his committee collected any bribe, and swiftly reversed himself 24 hours after, I do not know why he thinks we should ever believe him again.
During the week, the audio tapes recounting the conversations between Otedola and Farouk were played on a national Television. They were very telling. Those who know Farouk can attest that what was heard was verily his voice. The third party (TJ—for Tijani) whose number was given by Farouk has been confirmed to be Farouk’s own Personal Assistant (PA). How else could he have rolled out the telephone number (of TJ) with such eclectic ease? Then in part two of the audio tapes, Farouk was heard warning Otedola to keep the deal under wrap and not tell others, because he wants to “spring a surprise” on the members of the House.
Surely, he not only sprang surprise on the members of the House, but on the entire public, what with his now incoherent and puerile retorts, that paints him as a low-hanging crook, just like any other street side criminal.
As expected, Farouk’s lawyers, in a desperate bid to discredit the veracity of the tapes described them as “satanic, Luciferous, puerile” etc. Pray, what has satan and Lucifer got to do with this miasma? Yes, Mike Ozekhome and co, (Farouk’s lawyers) must be seen to earn their pay with all the noise they can make, but can they say of a truth that the voice heard is not Farouk’s? But whether they admit or not, it follows a creed of lies and denials. Didn’t Farouk himself claim that the images in the Video recording showing him stuffing bails of dollars into his pockets, as “caricature” of his image? The video tapes may be released soon. Ozekhome et al must be rehearsing how to rubbish the video tapes.
Now, can this 50-year-old man who has spent 15 years of his life as a lawmaker in the House of Reps answer the following questions:
If indeed, he collected the money (or bribe) as exhibit, why did he not report about it immediately either to the police or to the House Leadership?
If it is true, he was not a willing accomplice in the crime, why did he drive alone to Otedola’s home at 4-00am--- when normal people are yet sleeping?
He presented committee’s report on April 18, indicting Zenon Oil. Received bribe on April 24, and thereafter tells House that Zenon Oil was erroneously indicted. Does it not stand to reason that because bribe had been received, then Zenon Oil had to be absolved?
And for a bribe received on April 24, why did it take Farouk about five weeks before writing the House about it on May 31 to intimate it of the so-called transaction with Otedola? Why the time lapse? In any case, the said letter was allegedly never seen.
Farouk visited Otedola’s home a couple of times. What was the purpose? If it is in pursuit of his own sting action as claimed, where are his evidences? Indeed, where are the marked dollar notes he received?
Mr Integrity, is any of your staff or aides called TJ?
Honestly, I would have thought that having admitted collecting the bribe (or money), Farouk should have been soaked in quiet piety and ask for national mercy, and not resort to this gra-gra tactics of hiring a platoon of lawyers (four Senior Advocates of Nigeria –SANs) to legalise an illegality.
All said, all the fuss about the subsidy report (which has inadvertently been killed by the faux pas of Farouk) is on how to run or ruin Nigeria. The over N I trillion fraud recorded in the subsidy regime seems now forgotten, because of the $620,000 bribery scandal. It will amount to great disservice to the nation for the Jonathan-led administration to refuse to prosecute those indicted in the report all because Farouk was bribed. Who will save Nigeria? Meanwhile, somebody should please tell the Farouk theatre troupe to henceforth spare us the vexatious shenanigans in the next episode.