Emenalo Boniface, prosecuting witness 1, in the ongoing trial against Farouk Lawan, former chairman, House Committee on Subsidy Claims, has recounted before a FCT High Court sitting before Justice Angela Otaluka, how Zenon Oil and Gas Limited, owned by Femi Otedola, got $232,975,385.13 from the Federal Government over subsidy claims, without making available the petroleum products.
At the continuation of trial and cross examination of the PW1, Emenalo, who was secretary of the committee, affirmed before the court that, part of the main objectives of the committee was to determine the existence of any cabal associated with the importation of petroleum or any members involved and to discover whether some companies or individuals were paid subsidy for petroleum products they never imported.
During cross-examination by counsel to the defendant Mike Ozekhome, Emenalo affirmed that from the findings of the committee, it was not every company that came before it, that was involved in the scam.
While the committee was also saddled with the objective to expose cases of irregularities and corruption associated with the importation of petroleum in the country, the committee did discovered some financial infractions regarding the allocation of foreign exchange to some companies.
One of these infractions discovered was that some companies/marketers obtained foreign exchange for the importation of petroleum products but failed to use them for the purpose, having discovered that some companies through Form M, had signed it to another company, to which it was not originally assigned.
Emenalo, who in his statement to the police said that the committee invited relevant stakeholders, Kareem Otaru, the then managing director of Zenon Oil, appeared before the committee and said that, it was not involved in the subsidy payment.
Investigation later showed that the foreign exchange AP (Forte Oil) got was used by Zenon Oil.
“While the investigation was on, MD Zenon Oil called me to tell me his chairman wanted to see me. Otedola called me and invited me to his house, this meeting I also relayed to my chairman (Lawan),” Emenalo recalled.
He told the court that he never told Otedola that Lawan would remove his company’s name from the list of subsidy scammers if the committee was bribed.
The witness also said that it was at his second meeting with Otedola in his house on April 22, 2015, that he was given $100,000, which was meant to be an exhibit to prove that the members of the committee were bribed and pressurised to arrive at its final report.
Upon non-availability of the other prosecuting witnesses, Justice Otaluka adjourned the matter to April 13, 2016 for continuation of trial.