Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Clerk to the then House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Boniface Emenalo, on monday admitted before an Abuja High Court in Lugbe that he collected the sum of $100,000 from oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, as part of the alleged $3million bribe promised to the then chairman of the committee, Farouk Lawan.
Emenalo,who was initially charged with Lawan was later turned to prosecution witness. They were accused of receiving $620,000 from Otedola to remove the names of his companies from the list of companies found to have allegedly defrauded the federal government in the petroleum subsidy scam.
Emenalo who testified as the first prosecution witness before Justice Angela Otakula, yesterday said he collected the sum of $100,000 from the businessman in $100 bills.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission is prosecuting Lawan for allegedly “corruptly” collecting $500,000 out of the $3m bribe he requested from Otedola in to remove his company’s name from the list of firms indicted by the House committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
He said: “I came across Femi Otedola during this assignment on April 24, 2012. I received persistent calls from Otedola in the morning and reported to Lawan and he asked him to play along with him and that he was with him the previous night.
“When Otedola called again, he asked me to come over to his house, gave me the discription, when I got there, he also confirmed that he was with my chairman the previous night. He gave me two bundles of dollar bills in $100 denomination. Each bundle was $50,000 making it $100,000 that were not converted.
“When I got back to the office, I wrote a memo forwarding the money to my chairman that same April 24, 2012 which he took from me.”
A copy of the memo was tendered before the court and marked Exhibit PW1 C.
The defence led by Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN) did not object to the admissibility of the document.
But during cross-examination, Emenalo told the court that it was surprising when he read in the newspapers that Otedola actually gave him $120,000.
Emenalo, who was led in evidence by the lead prosecuting counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) said Otedola’s three companies, Zenon Oil and Gas, AP and Forte oil were named in the subsidy report.
Ozekhome however, sought an adjournment to serve the prosecution notice to produce additional statement made by the witness as contained in their proof of evidence.
The judge adjourned till April 12 and 13, 2016 for continuation of trial and cross examination.
Emenalo was initially charged along with Lawan with respect to the bribery charges.
Both of them were first arraigned before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, then of the FCT High Court on February 2, 2013.
But a later amendment to the charges by the ICPC saw Emenalo’s name removed as a defendant.
Lawan is now the sole accused person in the case.
The case was re-assigned to Justice Adebukola Banjoko after Justice Oniyangi was elevated to the position of a Justice of the Court of Appeal.
The case was further re-assigned to Justice Otakula in Lugbe Division of the FCT High Court following the withdrawal of Justice Banjoko from the case in November 2014.
The amended charges now comprising three counts instead of the previous seven now indicate that Lawan corruptly asked for $3million from Otedola and did corruptly collect $500,000 from the business man.
The offences are said to be contrary to sections 8(1)(a) and 17(1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under sections (8(1) and 17(1) of the same Act.