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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Court Sentences Farouk Lawan to 7 Years Imprisonment

An FCT High Court on Tuesday sentenced Farouk Lawal to seven years imprisonment for collecting 500,000 dollars bribe.

Delivering judgment, Justice Angela Otaluka, the trial judge, ordered Lawan to restitute the 500, 000 dollars.

Lawan chaired the House of Representative ad hoc committee that investigated the fraud around the oil subsidy regime in 2012.

Justice Otaluka found Lawan guilty on the three-count charge brought against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) against him.

” I am convinced and I hold that the prosecution in count one have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant while acting in the course of his official duty corruptly demanded the sum of three million dollars from Femi Otedola in his intention to show favour by removing the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas from the report of the House of Representatives adhoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.

”Secondly, I am strongly convinced and hold that the prosecution has established against the defendant the ingredients of Count 2 that the while acting in his official duty corruptly accepted 500,000 dollars collected from Otedola as an inducement to remove his company’s name from the report of the committee.

” Thirdly, I strongly hold that the defendant obtained the sum of 500,000 dollars as an inducement to remove the name of Zenon from the report of the committee.

“Going by the entire gamut of evidence, I believe that the defendant by the virtue of being the chairman of the adhoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.

”Therefore, I hold that the prosecution has proved that his action was a disgrace to the committee he chaired and the House of Representatives.

” In my finding, and I hold that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt the case against the defendant.

”Having found the defendant guilty, the defendant is sentenced to seven years in prison on count one and two and five years on count three without option of fine” she held.

The sentence is, however, to run concurrently.

She also ordered the convict to forfeit the 500,000 dollars he collected from Otedola to the coffers of the Federal Government.

Lawan, former lawmaker, a four-term member of the House of Representatives, who represented Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015, in the case marked FCT/HR/CR/76/13, was alleged to have demanded the sum of $3million for himself from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola.

He was alleged to have collected 620,000 dollars out of the amount with a view to removing Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the ad hoc committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.

Reports say Lawan had approached the Appeal Court to set aside the decision of Justice Otaluka and free him from the charges.

But on Aug. 4, 2020, delivering judgment in the appeal filed against the ruling of Otaluka which held that Lawan had a case to answer, Justice Olabisi Ige who headed the panel held that the decision of the lower court was well-founded.The appellate court in a unanimous decision held that a prima facie case was well established against Lawan that warranted him to enter his defence in the three counts charges brought against him since 2013.

Justice Ige held that contrary to the argument of Lawan, the prosecution evidence at the lower court was not in any way discredited, hence the rejection of his no-case submission.

The appellate court also held that the language of the trial judge, Justice Otaluka which Lawan complained about, did not place the defendant in any disadvantage position or was in any way inimical to his trial.

The judge, who quoted the records of proceedings of the FCTHigh Court, especially the testimonies of the five witnesses called by the federal government.


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