From GODWIN TSA, Abuja
Business mogul, Mr. Femi Otedola, has asked an Abuja High Court to allow and sustain the N250billion suit he filed against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and former Chairman of the fuel subsidy probe ad hoc committee, Farouk Lawan on the alleged harassment, intimidation and the business losses he suffered from them.
His counsel, Chief Babajide Koku (SAN), told Justice Peter Kekemeke not to allow Tambuwal and Lawan hide under any legislative immunity to escape the action they allegedly committed outside their legislative powers.
Koku was responding to the motion of Tambuwal and Lawan, praying that the legal action be dismissed because they cannot be sued on any action carried out on behalf of the House. Otedola argued that the defendants were sued in their personal capacities for the intimidation he suffered from phone calls before he parted with $620,000 out of the $3million bribe demanded and collected by Lawan.
The plaintiff insisted that legislative immunity cannot be used to defend the allegation of request and receipt of bribe. Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Oil, pleaded with Justice Peter Kekemeke to make Tambuwal and Lawan defend themselves as allowed by law. He also objected to their (Tambuwal and Lawan) prayer that the Federal High Court and not an Abuja court can adjudicate over the matter because the House of Representatives is an agency of the Federal Government.
Koku argued that the case of Otedola and his Zenon Oil Ltd was on the demand for bribe with the use of harassment and intimidation and not an attack against the fuel subsidy or the report of the subsidy committee.
The plaintiff submitted that the issue of jurisdiction of a court in any matter could be determined by the nature of reliefs, facts and statement of claims, adding that since the suit did not challenge the revenue of the Federal Government or the administrative decision of the National Assembly, an Abuja High Court has power and jurisdiction to hear it.
Racall that the demand and collection of the $620, 000 bribe part payment were recorded in a string operation involving security agencies. Lawan was interrogated by the police. His promise to return the $500, 000 share of the bribe was yet to be returned to the force. He was suspended as the committee chairman following Otedola’s outburst.
The $3million bribe was to facilitate the removal of Zenon Oil from the list of those who allegedly collected fuel subsidy money and failed to supply the commodity. The sub-committee was raised shortly after the fuel subsidy strike that grounded the country in January this year.