Nigerian lawmaker who exposed oil fraud quizzed over bribe


Motorcycle taxis queue to buy fuel at a Total filling station in Lagos on January 17, 2012. Many filling stations in Lagos and other parts of the country are short of supplies, with long lines for gasoline. Others are out of fuel entirely.



A Nigerian lawmaker who headed up a probe that uncovered a $6.8 billion fuel subsidy scam in the West African nation is now being questioned by police over allegations that he tried to secure bribes from a major oil tycoon to doctor his report.

Farouk Lawan chaired a parliamentary committee set up in January which found that corruption and bad management were rife in Nigeria’s fuel subsidy program, according to the Agence France Presse.

He was taken into custody for questioning by police on Thursday after oil tycoon Femi Otedola, the owner of Zenon Petroleum and Forte Oil, accused Lawan of demanding a $3 billion bribe to remove both companies’ names from a list of firms implicated in the scandal.

According to Reuters, Otedola paid part of the bribe but made a secret video of the transaction in order to expose Lawan. Lawan – whose report implicated high-profile businessmen and recommended a “complete overhaul” of the board of Nigeria’s state oil company – denies demanding any bribes.

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Lawan’s interrogation comes a month after he told the BBC that he had received death threats from individuals after uncovering the scandal in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

Lawmakers have voted to strip Lawan of all of his parliamentary responsibilities, but many Nigerians question whether he was guilty of extortion or the victim of a campaign to undermine the findings of his report, the BBC reported