Alleged bribe: Video clip shows Otedola handing ‘parcels’ to Farouk Lawan
The prosecution in the trial of former House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan played before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Court in Lugbe, a video clip showing how businessman, Femi Otedola, handed two “parcels” to Lawan.
Lawan, who was the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, is being tried before on three-count charge, in which he is accused of collecting $500,000 out of the $3m bribe he allegedly requested from Otedola.
Lawan is also accused of accepting the bribe with a promise to remove Otedola’s company’s name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd from the list of firms indicted by the House’s Committee the abuse of the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
At the commencement of proceedings Tuesday, lead prosecuting lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) infomred the court about the prosecution’s intention to have the video played.
A 32-inch LG television was mounted on a courner in front of the courtroom, on which the video was later played.
The images on the video were not-too lucid and the voices were barely audible. But one could see two men entering a sitting room and sitting close to each other.
After a short discussion, one of the men was seen handing over two swollen and folded “parcels” to the other man. The one, who handed out the envelopes, was heard saying that the balance remained $1m.
The man, who accepted the envelopes, was seen inserting one of the envelopes into his pocket. He held on to the other as both men walked out of the room.
Shortly after the video, which lasted about two-and-a-half ended, the 3rd prosecution witness, David Ojatah, an operative of the Department of State Service (DSS), said the “exchange of parcels” took place in Otedola’s residence on April 23, 2012.
Ojatah, who was led in evidence by Awomolo, said he led the team that installed the device which recorded the meeting between the two men at Otedola’s residence before Lawan’s arrival.
The witness said he was then the Principal Staff Officer, Technical Operations of the DSS.
When asked by Awomolo about what happened in the vvideo, the witness said, “Those in the clip are Mr. Femi Otedola and Honourable Farouk Lawan. In the video clip there was exchange of parcels from Mr. Femi Otedola to Honourable Farouk Lawan.The venue was at Mr. Femi Otedola’s residence in Abuja.”
While being cross-examined by lead defence lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Ojatah said he was from Iwajara in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State, and that he had his Higher National Diploma in Electronics/Telecommunication Engineering from Federal Polytehnicn Bida, Niger State. He said he enlisted into the DSS in 1992.
The witness said he was not present during the meeting between Otedola and Lawan.
He added that he could not say what the content of the envelopes were because they were sealed.
He said “no date or time was shown on the video clip, because the device used does not have such functionality” He said “there was no discussion of bribery” in the clip.
On why he concluded that one of the men shown in the clip was Lawan, the witness said, “Before the video clip, there was a complaint against Hon. Farouk Lawan by Otedola. In view of this, the person in the video clip was the defendant.”
The witness said there was a DSS stamp on the pages of the letter of complaint dated April 13, 2012 addressed to the Director-General of the DSS.
Ojatah said there was a space for date and signature but “no signature was imprinted on the stamp and no date on the stamp.”
The witness said he was not sure if the DSS replied Otedola’s letter.
Trial judge, Justice Angela Otaluka adjourned further proceeding to Wednesday.
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