14th June, 2012
Nigeria’s House of Representatives is convening for an emergency plenary session tomorrow to consider how to prevent the brewing controversies over $620,000 bribery allegations involving Farouk Lawan, the chairman of its Ad Hoc Committee that probed the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy and Femi Otedola, Chairman, Zenon Oil and Gas from spinning out of control.
P.M.NEWS learnt this morning that the lawmakers will likely suspend Lawan during the emergency plenary session and also send a strong message to the executive arm of government on their resolve to vigorously protect the independence of the House as presently being led by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.
In deed, P.M.NEWS gathered that the sudden decision of the lawmakers to cut short their recess that would have ended next Tuesday followed information that the executive arm of government and the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are perfecting plans to leverage on the bribery scandal to move against Tambuwal and possibly create an avenue for his impeachment and the current House leadership.
The Speaker, and his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, who emerged as leaders of the House against the zoning policy of PDP were considered rebels within the party and by the Presidency.
The accusations and counter accusations between President Goodluck Jonathan and Tambuwal over some bills passed by the National Assembly, but which have not been signed into law during the Democracy Day lecture was seen as evidence of the cold relationship between the two.
It was learnt that most of the lawmakers therefore regard the calls for the sack of the entire Tambuwal-led leadership of the House over the Lawan bribery scandal by some civil society groups as being orchestrated by the executive arm of government.
They also feared that if the controversy is allowed to continue to fester, foot soldiers of the executive and PDP may move in over the weekend, divide the House and get more groups to join in the campaign to oust the Tambuwal-led House leadership.
The lawmakers also feared that the Executive is behind moves to link the leadership of the House with the bribery scandal.
P.M.NEWS learnt that when the House meets tomorrow, at a plenary which will likely be preceded by a secret session, members may suspend Lawan and stop him from chairing the ad hoc committee.
This is in a move to isolate the leadership of the House from the embarrassing bribery scandal.
The Lawan Committee still plans to take testimonies from 17 oil marketing firms which initially did not honour the invitation to appear during the public sittings.
Speaking on national television this morning, Zakare Mohammed, the House spokesman, said no agenda has been fashioned out for the plenary session. But he also dismissed reports that the House is seeking a political solution to the bribery scandal.
Sources also told P.M.NEWS that in addition to the Lawan bribery issue, the House may also considered the Bill on the controversial change of name of University of Lagos and other institutions sent to the House last week.
Sources said some members of the House may during the plenary tomorrow push for the throwing out of the Bill to send a strong message to the executive that it will not be a rubber stamp.
Meanwhile, Lawan who agreed that he collected the $600,000 from Otedola as part of the $3 million payments has still not honoured the invitation of the police to explain his side of the bribery scandal as at the time of filing in this story.
He was expected to appear before the police for questioning yesterday bu he never showed up. The police have again extended the ultimatum given to him to report to Friday, 15 June, failure of which the pint-size lawmaker will be declared wanted.
Otedola had appeared before the investigating team led by Commissioner of Police Ali Amodu last Monday to explain how he set up the lawmaker in a sting operation with the assistance of the State Security Service, following persistent demand for bribe by Farouk from him.