Farouk Lawangate: My Tentative Viewpoint – By Dr. Kunle OjeleyeArticles, Columnists, Kunle Ojeleye, NNP Columnists Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
By Dr. Kunle Ojeleye | Calgary, Canada | June 20, 2012 - I have taken some time to read and scrutinise the various submissions of both sides in the unfolding scandal about bribery involving the committee that was tasked with probing the oil subsidy scam in Nigeria.
Having watched the video posted by Channel News (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7gzT5vd0vE), it seems clear to me that:
- The initial report submitted by Lawan’s committee requested further investigations into Otedola’s companies because they collected forex but the committee could not establish that they imported fuel with the forex.
- According to Lawan, when the committee received further information showing the two companies had nothing to do with the oil subsidy, he had no option than to ask for their removal from the report.
Based on (1) above, one should ask if the Lawan committee worked on the assumption that because Zenon was an oil company and it was allocated forex, the forex must be for the importation of petrol under the subsidy regime?
If this was the assumption, bearing in mind Otedola’s argument (and the public knowledge) that Zenon is fully into diesel marketing and diesel is not part of the oil subsidy regime, the committee shot itself in the foot by not doing its homework properly. Or was the committee working on the assumption that Zenon Oil and Forte Oil (formerly AP) are one and the same because of Otedola’s position within both companies?
Based on (2) above, one may extrapolate by concluding that further information showed that: (a) Otedola’s companies were not part of the oil subsidy regime which was the focus of the inquiry; (b) the forex the companies received were not under “any oil subsidy forex allocation regime” that may have existed or exist; and (c) as a result of a & b, there was no justifiable basis for those companies to be included in the report of the committee.
If these extrapolations are true, then Otedola had every right to demand the removal of the two companies from the report and Lawan did well by asking for their removal on the floor of the house.
Having reached the above summations (and if the assumptions are indeed true), what remains to be done is find out the reasons why the monetary bargaining between Lawan and Otedola took place as reportedly captured on audio and video. A public release of the video will enable us to fully understand the context in which the negotiation took place – one of inducement or offer of bribe.
In the meantime, Farouk Lawan would do me big favour if he can explain:
- Why he was the one running after Otedola if indeed it was Otedola that was currying him for a favour.
- Why Otedola was the one that got security agents involved before paying “marked notes” if indeed Lawan was trying to entrap the former?
- Why he, Lawan denied the fact that he received any money when he was first challenged about the bribery allegation, if he was not being economical with the truth?
I must note that numerous comments on the unfolding saga have castigated Otedola for negotiating with Lawan in the first instance if his companies were not guilty of oil subsidy fraud.
I do not intend to teach anyone a lesson in what is called Damage Control/Limitation in business. But I am aware that corporate organisations would try and find ways of resolving issues that in the short and long term may ruin their reputation and business, even when they have not done anything wrong.
I hold no brief whatsoever for Otedola.
However, as far as I can conclude based on the information currently in the public domain, Otedola was not only right (and smart) in negotiating, but also in getting the SSS involved in the whole transaction.
When people start asking for his prosecution for “offering and giving a bribe”, a process that was done in full awareness and connivance of one of the security agencies, what such people are doing is asking: that anyone in possession of information that a crime is about to be committed should not tell the law enforcement agencies, and that witnesses to crimes that are committed who can help the law enforcement agencies to unravel such a crime should remain silent.
Until it can be shown that the inclusion of Otedola’s two companies (Zenon Oil and Gas Limited and Synopsis Enterprise Limited) in the oil subsidy investigation was legitimate because they benefitted (in one way or the other) from oil subsidy payments, and that their removal from the report was illegitimate as a result of the giving and acceptance of bribe, my conclusion of the guilty party in this case is as clear as “7up”.
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