Oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, hit back at the House of Representatives last night, dismissing as laughable its decision to include the name of his company, Zenon, among the oil marketers to refund money to the Federal Government for allegedly obtaining official foreign exchange allocation from the Central Bank and failing to import fuel.
The Reps’ action, according to him, amounted to a celebration of corruption.
The House suspended indefinitely the Chairman of its Ad hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Management, Alhaji Farouk Lawan, for allegedly collecting a $620,000 bribe from Otedola for the purpose of striking the names of his companies out of the list of oil marketers indicted by the committee.
The House also included in the list the name of Synopsis Enterprises Ltd, which it believed is owned by Otedola.
But in a statement moments after the emergency session of the House of Representatives, Otedola said he does not even have any relationship with Synopsis.
He was of the view that Lawan did not act alone in extorting money from him because, as he put it: “A tree does not make a forest.”
He said: “I have stated the facts in my interview with Thisday newspaper and nothing but the facts. That Farouk Lawan demanded $3 million from me and because I refused to oblige him he included the name of Zenon among those who bought forex without importing petroleum products.
“He did this without even asking Zenon to produce a single document of the forex transaction. He clearly wanted to extort money for an offence I did not commit. That is why I went to report to the security agencies.
“If I had anything to hide, I wouldn’t have gone to the agencies. There is an old adage that says people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
“Moreover, it is not possible to purchase $232, 975,385.13 million from CBN without importing the product. The total figure is not even $232, 975,385.13 million as alleged but $372, 207, 990 million. They should go and amend the report to read $372, 207, 990 million, which is the correct figure.
“It is not possible to purchase this volume of forex from the CBN with first class banks such as Access bank, FCMB, GTB, UBA and an international bank, BNP Paribas, which is one of the biggest and most respected banks in the world.
“If people at my level who have worked hard to build their businesses can be blackmailed this way all in a bid to extort money from them, I pity people that are just starting out in business in this country.
“In all my business dealings, I have always been above board and the records are there to prove. As far as I know, Lawan could not have been working alone in this extortionist plot. A tree does not make a forest. Let me also state for the records that we are not in any way affiliated to the other company, Synopsis enterprises Ltd, also included in the report. Actions of today by the house is laughable; a mere celebration of corruption and a further indictment on their honorable member.”