FEMI OTEDOLA SUES TAMBUWAL, FAROUK LAWAN FOR N250 BILLION DAMAGES
The chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Mr Femi Otedola has filed a N250 billion suit against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and former chairman of the House ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe, Honorable Farouk Lawan.
The oil mogul dragged the two legislators before an Abuja High Court, where he is claiming the sum of N250 billion as compensation for business losses he suffered by the action of the two defendants.
The suit filed by Babajide Koku (SAN), is seeking N100 billion as general damages on behalf of Mr Otedola, for acts of intimidation, loss of good-will and patronages occasioned by the acts of the Speaker and Farouk.
Joining in the suit, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Company, a company owned by Mr Otedola, sought another N150 billion against the defendants as exemplary damages for their alleged oppressive and arbitrary actions against him and his company.
Reps to deliberate on Farouk next week
The plaintiff is also challenging an alleged move by the legislators to re-list his company among the oil firms already indicted for allegedly defrauding the federal government with the fuel subsidy scandal.
The House of Representative is expected to deliberate on a report by a committee that was set up to investigate the bribery scandal.
In his 28-point statement of claim, Otedola averred that by resolution of January 8, this year, the lower arm of the legislature, set up an adhoc Committee to verify and determine the actual subsidy amount made to oil companies and to also monitor the implementation of the subsidy in the country.
He claimed that Honourable Farouk later allegedly contacted and informed that his company was going to be indicted for purchasing foreign exchange from Central Bank of Nigeria without importing fuel.
The business man explained that in spite of his explanations, Farouk allegedly demanded $3million bribe to enable Zenon Oil get a clean bill of health.
He contended that Farouk resorted to persistent phone calls threatening him that his company would be included in the list of indicted oil importers and that the image and reputations of Zenon Oil would be greatly affected unless he pays the $3million.
Faced with the unrelenting barrage of intimidating phone calls, the plaintiff claimed that he became distressed and reported the unlawful demands to the security agencies.
He claimed that he secured the advice of security agents to play along by giving marked money to Farouk with a view to gather evidence for the nefarious activities.
Otedola alleged that the situation got to the peak on April 18 when the fuel subsidy probe report was submitted indicting his company.
He further claimed that Farouk call had assured him that Zenon Oil can be delisted from the list of the indicted ones prompting him to give $620,000 marked money in two installments with $500,000 to Farouk and another $120,000 to one Boniface Emenalo on the instruction of Farouk.
With the bribe paid, the plaintiff stated that Farouk on April 24, moved a motion in the House of Representatives to delist the name of Zenon Oil from the indicted company but was still persistent in demanding for balance of $2,380,000 prompting him to report the incident to Police.
The plaintiff asserted that in spite of the on-going police investigation, the Speaker and Honourable Farouk have allegedly conspired to re-list his company among the indicted companies to embarrass him and his business corporate image.
He claimed that the purpose of re-listing Zenon Oil was to force and intimidate him to drop his complaints against Farouk.
Otedola therefore asked the court to award him N250 billion for the grave injuries done to his reputation and business image resulting in the substantial loss of goodwill and patronage of the business built over the years.
However, the Speaker and Farouk have filed an objection to hearing of the suit by an Abuja High Court claiming that it is only the Federal High Court that can adjudicate over such a matter.
Justice Peter Kekemeke of the Abuja high Court has however adjourned the case till November 23 for a substantive hearing.