Farouk Lawan found guilty, jail term to run concurrently
A High Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has sentenced the former Chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on Petroleum Subsidy, Farouk Lawan to seven years in prison for receiving a $500,000 bribe while in office.
Lawan who represented Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State in the house of representative was on Tuesday found guilty of count one, two, and three bothering on corruptly asking for and obtaining bribe from Nigerian business mogul Femi Otedola, in order to exonerate Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of companies in the fuel subsidy scam.
How it started
Lawan being the House Chairman of the ad-hoc committee investigating the fraud around the oil subsidy regime in 2012 found Zenon Petroleum and Gas Company, an oil company belonging to Mr Otedola, culpable of defrauding the Federal Government via spurious subsidy claims.
He allegedly demanded $3 million bribe from Otedola to remove his firms from the list of companies indicted in the fraud.
Otedola allegedly videoed the lawmaker while receiving the said bribe.
He was arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) in 2012 on three count charges.
Mike Ozekhome who is Lawan’s Defense Counsel in his submission told the court that the ICPC had failed to properly establish the defendant’s intent to commit the offense he was charged with.
Ozekhome argued that the prosecution’s witnesses gave conflicting statements about the amount Lawan was alleged to have collected.
He also said the video evidence was blurry and does not necessarily prove that the content of the envelope Otedola gave to Lawan was money but could have been anything else.
He said that if the Department of State Services had any evidence they would have arrested Lawan immediately at the scene of the bribery which they claimed they set up.
However, the prosecution counsel Adegboyega Awomolo objecting to the application told the court that despite the defense’s failure to accept the video evidence it doesn’t negate the fact that the evidence exists and is true.
Adegboyega said that he has been able to prove that Lawan took money to perform a public duty that he was supposed to do.
Channels tv reported that Justice Angela Otaluka who presided over the case on Tuesday noted that the evidence listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel, remain unshaken during cross-examination.
The judge also noted that the conduct, responses, and submissions of the defendant and witnesses, in this case, establish the charge in the count.
Count two stated that the defendant collected the sum of $500,000 as a bribe to exonerate Zelon petroleum and gas from the fuel subsidy probe report.
Justice Otaluka added that the defendant demanded a balance of payment, after receiving the first and second tranche of the payment, and as at the early hours of 24th April 2012 when the accused received the second tranche, no complaint was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies, as he claims he accepted the money to show as evidence before the house.
The judge further said the defendant failed to convince the court that his acceptance of the said bribe was to serve as evidence before the House Committee that the Chairman of Zelon Petroleum wants to bribe the Committee involved in the probe.
For count one and two the court sentenced Lawan to seven years while for count three he was sentenced to five years. The sentences are to run concurrently.
The court also ordered that the defendant return the sum of $500,000 to the Federal Government.