The police launched a search for the $62,0000 allegedly collected as bribe by Represenative Farouk Lawan from oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, yesterday.
For two hours, a team of policemen combed the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja residence of the suspended chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Ad hoc committee on Fuel Subsidy management, looking for the money which they intend to use as possible exhibit against him.
His lawyers, Mr. Israel Olorundare (SAN) and Mr. Sam Ologunorisa (SAN) were not allowed to witness the search.
Although it was evident that Lawan would spend the weekend in police custody, his lawyers remained hopeful of securing bail for him last night.
It was gathered that Lawan was taken to his house for the search for the bribe money and other evidence.
Only $10,000 was found during the search but it was not known whether it was part of the alleged bribe. Lawan is sticking to his resolve to make the money available only in court.
The police seized his international passport.
A reliable source said: “They brought the lawmaker from his detention cell in FCID in Area 10 to his residence in the morning for what they termed a‘comprehensive’ search.
“It was obvious that they were looking desperately for bribe sum, having screened Lawan’s accounts and discovered that it was not deposited in any bank.
“Throughout the interrogation, the lawmaker was adamant in not disclosing where the bribe sum was kept. He said since Otedola said it was a sting operation, the onus lies on those who conducted same to produce the bribe sum.”
This did not stop the STF coordinator, CP Ali Amodu and his team from continuing with their questioning of Lawan at the Force Headquarters.
A top police source said: “We are still investigating him; we are not in a hurry to release him on bail at all. He might be here till Monday or Tuesday when we would have finished our preliminary findings and submit a report to the IGP.
“It is true we searched his house but we discovered that because of the time lag, he had taken time to clear his residence of vital evidence.
“But we are exploring other clues. That is why we are detaining him till next week. Our target is to locate the bribe sum and retrieve it.”
On the $10,000 found in the house, the police source said: “Even though we were looking for something bigger, like $1 million, we could only get $10,000 from his house.
“We could not achieve much in getting the bribe sum because he came on his own. We did not surprise him. Police record more success with surprise search.
“But we have seized his international passports. He cannot travel till we have concluded our investigation.”
His lead counsel, Mr. Olorundare (SAN) said: “It is true they retrieved $10,000 from his house. And when Lawan was asked, he told the police ‘I travel a lot, even at short notice. You should expect me to have some money at home.’
“It was disappointing that the police told us at about 6 pm that they are not going to release him. They said they are still investigating the case.
“We are surprised that they could do that. We hope that they will allow sanity to prevail.
“But if they detain him beyond what is legally allowed within the law of the land, we will certainly go to court to secure bail for him. We insist that the offence is ordinarily bailable.”
The lawmaker was returned to his cell at the Force CID Annex at Area 10 where some journalists were detained last year.
“Lawan is sharing cell with other criminals in Area 10 Annex until he secures bail. He was really given a rousing welcome on Thursday night by those he met in detention.
‘There are VIP, ECOMOG, ABUJA , and other types of cells in the annex.”
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) was said to have written to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) yesterday to take over the case and the prosecution of those found culpable in the bribery saga.
The letter was delivered to the Chairman of ICPC, Barrister Nta Ekpo.
“The offence falls within the purview of the ICPC Act, that is why the case has been referred to the agency,” a source familiar with the matter said.
“The case file will certainly go to ICPC next week for prosecution of any suspect with prima facie case.”