Court Orders Farouk Lawan, Emenalo To Stand Trial For $620,000 Bribery

An Abuja High Court has dismissed the application to quash bribery charges filed against former chairman of the House of Representatives on Fuel Subsidy scam, Farouk Lawan, and the committee’s secretary Boniface Emenalo, over the receipt of $620,000 bribe from oil mogul; Femi Otedola.

Presiding Judge; Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi on Friday, rejected the application in favor of the prosecution, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission, ICPC, on the three grounds.

The court ruled that it has jurisdiction, as there is evidence of crime against the defendants and that the charges are not an abuse of court process.

Counsel to the lawmakers said he would consult with his clients before deciding on appeal.

The two lawmakers were accused of demanding and collecting $620, 000 bribe from Mr Otedola, to remove the name of his companies  from the list of companies culpable in fuel subsidy fraud.

 

$620,000 Fuel Subsidy Bribe: Judge Fails To Rule On Farouk Lawan’s Trial

Ruling on an application to quash the charges against former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on fuel subsidy; Farouk Lawan and the committee’s secretary, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, was stalled on Thursday as the trial judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, could not deliver the anticipated ruling owing to bereavement.

An official of the Abuja High confirmed the development to journalist in Abuja and consequently, May 10, was fixed as new date for ruling on the pending application by Lawan and Emenalo.

The duo seeks to have the court quash the 7-count charge preferred against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The anti-corruption agency had put Lawan and Emenalo on trial for allegedly collecting the sum of $620, 000 as bribe from chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola, to delete the names of the latter’s companies (Zenon Petroleum and Gas as well as Synopsis Enterprises Limited), from the list of companies allegedly found to have defrauded the Federal Government of billions of naira.

The defendants however argued that the commission has not established any prima facie case against them to necessitate or warrant their being put to trial.

Their argument was canvassed by their counsel, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), who urged the court to discharge the defendants on the ground that the prosecutor failed to comply with Section 155 (1)(B) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The application had stalled commencement of trial at the last court hearing, as defence counsel had persuaded the court to hear the aforesaid application first, before going into trial proper.

Farouk’s Removal Was For Performance Sake – House Spokesman

The House of Representatives has explained that the removal of Mr. Farouk Lawan as the chairman of the House committee on education was not to confirm his alleged involvement in a bribery scam but to allow the committee operate optimally while the case is being handled in the court.

Briefing correspondents, spokesman of the House, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, however, raised concerns that out of the two parties alleged to have participated in the bribery incident, only one has been arrested and charged to court while the other walks around free.

Mr. Lawan was allegedly nailed for bribery by the Chairman of Zenon Gas and Oil, Femi Otedola who claimed that he blew the whistle on the former chairman of the House Commitee on Fuel Subsidy Probe,  alleging that he requested the sum of $3 million to remove the name of his (Otedola’s) company from the list of indicted companies in the subsidy probe.

Mr. Otedola claimed it was a sting operation involving the State Security Service. He also claimed there was a video evidence to prove that Mr. Lawan collected part of the agreed sum.

 

FG To File Charges Against Farouk Lawan Over $620,000 Bribe

After over five months of delay, the federal government has finally agreed to begin the trial of the House of Representatives member, Mr. Farouk Lawan for allegedly demanding and receiving $620,000 dollar bribe.

As the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Probe, Mr Lawal is alleged to have negotiated the sum of $3million as bribe and collected $650,000 from the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Femi Otedola.

Court details obtained by Channels TV reveal that the embattled lawmaker will now be prosecuted by the Federal Government for receiving bribe, breach of trust and stealing, along with one official of the National Assembly.

Mr. Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) is expected to lead federal government’s legal team.

Already, the leave of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has been secured by the Federal Government to slam the criminal charges against Farouk at the High Court Four in Maitama.

Although a copy of the criminal charge could not be obtained by Channels TV at press time, it was gathered that all necessary documentary and oral evidence have been sufficiently assembled to facilitate diligent prosecution.

This is coming a week after constitutional lawyer, Festus Keyamo, entered a 4-count criminal charge against the lawmaker for allegedly collecting the sum of $3million as bribe from Mr Otedola.

The lawyer had earlier given the Federal Government a  seven day ultimatum to commence the trail of the lawmaker or he would proceed to court and file charges against him.

Otedola appeals to court to hear his N250billion suit against Tambuwal and Farouk Lawan

Oil mogul, Mr Femi Otedola has asked an Abuja High Court to allow and sustain the N250 billion suit he filed against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and former chairman of the Fuel Subsidy probe committee, Representative Farouk Lawan.

Mr Otedola in the suit alleged that he suffered harassment, intimidation and some business losses from the defendants.

Counsel to the oil mogul, Mr Babajide Kokusan told the presiding judge, Justice Peter Kekemeke, that the law makers should not be allowed to hide under any legislative immunity to escape the action they committed outside their legislative powers.

Reacting to the lawmaker’s plea that suit action be dismissed because they cannot be sued on any action carried out on behalf of the house, Otedola’s counsel argued that the defendants were sued in their personal capacities for the intimidation he (Femi Otedola) suffered from phone calls before he parted with $620,000 out of $3million bribe demanded and collected by Mr Lawan.

He insisted that legislative immunity cannot be used to defend the allegation of request and receipt of bribe and asked the judge to make the two defendants defend themselves as allowed by law.

Mr Kokusan also objected to the prayer of Tambuwal and Farouk that the Federal High Court and not Abuja Court can adjudicate over the matter because the House of Representatives was an agency of the federal government.

His counsel argued that the case of Otedola and Zenon Oil Ltd was on the demand for bribe with the use of harassment and intimidation and not an attack against the fuel subsidy or the report of the subsidy committee.

He further adds that the issue of jurisdiction of a court in any matter could be determined by the nature of reliefs, facts and statement of claims and that since the suit did not challenge the revenue of the federal government or the administrative decision of the national assembly, an Abuja High Court has the power and jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Speaker of the House of Representative and Mr Lawan had through their counsels, Kehinde Ogunwumiju and Mike Ahamba opposed the suit filed by Otedola.

They claimed that the two lawmakers enjoy absolute legislative immunity for words spoken on the floor of the house.

Justice Kekemeke will however rule on January 30 on whether to maintain or strike out the case.

IGP admits Police CID is incapacitated…seeks more training

The Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar has affirmed that training and re-training of officers in the police force is critical to improving the nation’s Criminal Investigative Department.

Mr Abubakar who was speaking at a conference of sectional heads and state Criminal Investigative Departments (CIDs) in Abuja on Wednesday, said operations of investigative units the world over are not taken with laxity.

Making reference to the myriad of unresolved murder cases across the country, the Police boss hinged this development on an incapacitated CID which he seeks more training the officers to improve their investigative skills.

He announced that the police is putting concrete strategies in place to tackle criminal offenders, public officers or serving elected politicians who are linked with the terrorist group Boko Haram.

The IGP underlined external influences militating against the smooth operation of the force and called for intensive training and re-training of police officers for the efficiency of the service and national development.

Citing instances such as the $620,000 bribery scandal of former House of Representatives leader, Mr Farouk Lawan, and the purported Boko Haram links with some serving senators; Mr Abubakar vowed to prosecute the alleged culprits as soon as concrete evidence emerges.

The call for reinforcement for the nation’s CID may not be new, but what is certain is the renewed drive by the Nigerian police to adequately equip officers to guarantee a more secured environment for national growth.