BUSINESSMAN Femi Otedola said in Abuja yesterday that the Department of State Services (DSS) provided the $500,000 he offered former House of Representatives member Farouk Lawan.
Otedola stated this at the resumption of his testimony as a prosecution witness in the trial of Lawan before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Apo, Abuja.
Lawan is being tried for allegedly demanding and accepting money from Otedola to remove his companies from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in the fuel subsidy fraud.
He was accused by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) of accepting bribe.
At yesterday’s proceedings, Otedola, who dressed in a white agbada, sat in the witness box during the proceedings that lasted over an hour. He was cross-examined by Lawan’s lawyer Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
Otedola said the DSS gave him the money after he wrote a petition, complaining among others that Lawan demanded $3 million as bribe from him to remove his oil company from the list of the firms indicted by Lawan’s panel for subsidy scam.
Odetola said he petitioned the DSS immediately Lawan demanded the bribe. He explained that the $500,000 formed part payment of the $3m that Lawan demanded.
He said he handed the money to Lawan under the supervision of the DSS.
Otedola said: “Lawal said he was going to exonerate my company after giving him the money.”
He said after he informed the DSS, the agency mounted security cameras in his living room to capture the exchange of money between him and the defendant.
When asked if he was in possession of the video of the meeting, he said it was with the DSS.
The businessman said he gave Lawan the $500,000 in two tranches of $250,000 each.
When reminded by Ozekhome that the best time “to catch a thief is when the operation is ongoing”, Otedola said he does not know why the DSS failed to arrest Lawan at that moment.