The refusal of Mr Femi Otedola to testify before the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges has unnerved the committee members, claiming the decision was misguided that no one can dictate to the committee how to carry-out its investigation.
The committee says it summoned Otedola, chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd., who has made serious bribery allegations against Hon. Farouk Lawan, the suspended chairman of the House’s committee on fuel subsidy management, to appear before them and substantiate his claims.
However, the committee members were met with a wall of silence. Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Gambo Dan Musa, said Otedola refused to speak and instead “just stood there laughing”.
Musa said the move was “misguided” either by his lawyers or those instructing him.
“We did all that we could by explaining to him our power under the constitution and under our rules and…..further explained that nobody will dictate how we are going to conduct our meeting, yet Femi Otedola refused to answer questions and he said he could only do so when we do it in public,” Hon. Musa told reporters following the fruitless summons.
“You cannot make an allegation and when you are being asked to substantiate, you now refuse to substantiate. What are you hiding?” Musa asked rhetorically.
“He has told us that we are hiding something that is why we don’t want to do it in public, rather we told him, he is the one hiding something by refusing to talk, by refusing to make a substantiation of his allegations.”
The further added that Otedola was warned of the “consequences” of his refusal to speak, but Otedola has refused to “go by our words”.
They were further angered by Otedola’s demeanor.
“He has refused to answer all our questions, he has insulted us and, in addition to that, he was just laughing. It was very stupid of him and we are not happy too,” the Ethics’ chairman said emphatically, with other committee members eagerly assenting in the background.
“We cannot have a committee of this nature, a standing committee, that is respected by the House and somebody comes and tell us that he is a businessman… and he is not hungry like ourselves.”
Hon. Musa maintained that his committee has fulfilled its duty by calling on Otedola to substantiate his claims; he further added that others involved will be summoned.
“Our commitment to do justice through this exercise should not be in doubt,” the Ethics’ chairman said.