A Lagos-based oil magnate and the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Femi Otedola has floored the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and former Chairman House Ad hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Probe Farouk Lawan in the N250 billion harassment, intimidation and business losses suit he instituted against the two lawmakers.
An Abuja High Court on Thursday upheld Mr Otedola’s case against Messrs Tambuwal and Lawan ordering both men to file their defence immediately while dismissing their two separate objections to the legal action.
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The two lawmakers had objected to the hearing of Mr Otedola’s case on the ground that they are protected by House immunity and cannot be taken to court for either civil or criminal matters on any of their actions on the floor of the House.
They had asked the court to dismiss the suit for being too hasty because the House had not adopted the report on the subsidy probe and that there had been no white paper yet on it.
Missrs Tambuwal and Lawan also contended that being agents of the House, they can only be sued in a Federal High Court because the House is an organ of the Federal Government and as such no Abuja High Court has jurisdiction on the suit.
They also claimed that Mr Otedola freely gave out the bribe and cannot turn around to allege harassment and intimidation against them.
However, in his ruling, Justice Peter Kekemeke upheld the submission of Babajide Koku, counsel to Mr Otedola that the defendants cannot use House immunity as escape route to shield themselves from legal action for wrongful acts carried against the plaintiff outside the confinement of the House.
The judge agreed with Mr Koku that it was not part of the terms of reference of the Farouk Lawan committee to source for bribe from anybody and as such cannot hide under the immunity conferred on them while on the floor of the house to void the case.
Hearing of the suit has been adjourned to 20th March, 2013.
Mr. Otedola had sued the two lawmakers claiming the sum of N250 billion as general and exemplary damages for acts of intimidation, harassment, loss of goodwill, patronages, oppressive and arbitrary actions carried against him by the two defendants while allegedly demanding for $3 million dollar bribe.
Below are the audio recordings of the purported conversation between Messrs Otedola and Lawan:
NEGOTIATING THE BRIBE
LAWAN PROMISES TO SPRING SURPRISE
HERE COMES THE SUPRISE