$620,000 Bribe: Farouk, Emenalor Move To Abort Trial
Embattled former Chairman of the Adhoc committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Hon Farouk Lawan and the Secretary of the Committee, Boniface Emenalo on Wednesday commenced moves to thwart their trial as they asked an Abuja High Court to quash the charges slammed on them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The duo were accused of receiving $620,000 from businessman, Femi Otedola as an inducement to influence the report of the committee in favour of Zenon Oil and Gas Limited.
Their lawyer, Mr Rickey Tarfa, a senior advocate of Nigeria, contended that the court ought not to have granted the anti graft agency leave to prefer the charges against the accused persons because the prosecution failed to provide adequate materials necessary for the judge to exercise his discretion to grant the application.
He thereafter pleaded with the court to quash the charges and discharge the accused persons as there was no prima facie case against them and added that the foundation of the case against his clients was not legally laid. He faulted the prosecutors for not complying with the provisions of section 155 (1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code which required that statements of witnesses be attached to the application to prefer charges.
The presiding judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, after listening to the arguments in support of the application to quash the charges as well as the counter argument by the EFCC, adjourned till 2nd May for ruling on the application.
The EFCC, represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, also a senior advocate of Nigeri, asked the court to dismiss the application which he described as a ploy by the accused to thwart and stall their trial and waste the time of the court.
He pointed out that the Supreme Court had held in many cases, that the purpose of seeking for leave of court to prefer charges was to ensure that frivolous criminal charges were not filed and not to allow the accused persons to see the details of the charges against them.
He contended that the charge remains valid and that the non-attachment of witnesses’ statement did not vitiate the legality of the charges.
Lawan and Emenalo were said to have violated the provisions of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission Act.
Count one of the charge reads, “That you, Farouk Lawan (M) and Mr. Emenalo Boniface (M) sometime in April 2012 or thereabouts in Abuja within the Federal Capital Territory under the jurisdiction of this honourable court did while acting in the course of your official duties as Chairman and Secretary (respectively) of House of Representatives AdHoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime conspired between yourselves and with each other to corruptly obtain the sum of $3,000,000 for yourselves from Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, as inducement to remove the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd from the House of Representatives AdHoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime’s Report and did cause the House to remove the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd from the said list and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 26(1)(c) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Act, 2000, and punishable under section 8(1) of the same Act.”
In count two, Lawan was accused of corruptly asking for $3,000,000 from Otedola with the intention of favouring the businessman in the report of the adhoc committee, an offence punishable under section 8(1) of the same Act.
In count three, Lawan was said to have corruptly agreed to accept the $3,000,000, while count four of the charge indicated that he obtained $500,000 from Otedola.
In the same vein, count five accused Emenalo of asking for$3,000,000 for himself from Otedola as a bribe, an offence punishable under section 8(1) of the ICPC 2000 Act.
The prosecution alleged in count six that Emenalo was offered bribe by Otedola but he failed to report the offer to any officer of the ICPC, an offence contrary to section 23(1) of the ICPC Act, 2000, and punishable under section 23(3) of the same 2000 ICPC Act.
In count seven, Emenalo was equally accused of receiving $120,000 from Otedola.