As the magazine prepared for bed last week, there was no end yet to the bribe saga in which the House of Representatives is embroiled. Farouk Lawan, the legislator at the heart of the scandal, was still asking the police officers investigating the matter to give him more time to produce the $620,000 he allegedly collected from Femi Otedola, chairman of Zenon Petroleum. Since Lawan had earlier told the police that he turned over the bribe to another legislator in the House, Muhammed Abubakar, acting inspector general was said to have written to Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House, requesting for the money. The latter’s inquiry hit the wall as legislator that Lawan claimed to have handed over the bribe sum to said he was ignorant of the transaction. So where is the money?
The speculations making the round last week was that the money must have been shared by some legislators. If that was what happened, the dilemma Farouk and his collaborators have found themselves is not the inability to raise the total sum. After all, the bribe is only N96 million. That is chicken feed to many of the nation’s legislators. They are the highest paid in the world. The problem may lie in producing the exact dollars, believed to have been marked by the State Security Service in the “sting operation,” given to Lawan by Otedola. However, another speculation was that Lawan may actually have the money but is holding on to it in an attempt to frustrate the investigation. The logic is that without the exhibit, the police cannot go to court. If that is his thinking, he may be living in a fool’s paradise. With the video of the transaction, a copy of which is said to be in the custody of the investigating officers, it may be too late in the day for Lawan to do another about turn. That is coupled with the fact that he has agreed publicly that he actually collected the bribe. So if his plan is to frustrate the police, he is in for a surprise. Anayochukwu Agbo, senior associate editor, wrote the special report on the deepening rot.
While the House wrestled with Lawangate last week, the violent eruptions in Kaduna continued to rage. The streets of the city itself were deserted as security agents patrolled to ensure compliance with the 24-hour curfew imposed by government. Many families trapped in their homes battled hunger, even as the violent attacks by rampaging youths bent on vengeance continued in several parts of the state. So what is the way forward? The Editorial Board reviewed the trend since the Boko Haram became the latest of the nation’s albatross. Somehow, many northern leaders seem to have gone to sleep while the nation is burning. The conclusion is that a conspiracy of silence among this spectrum of northern leaders is the weapon that is fuelling the insurgency that is ravaging the North, which is pushing the nation towards the brink. Tajudeen Suleiman, associate editor, wrote the story, the cover in this edition.