FaroukGate $3M Bribery: Lawan, Emenelo Re Arraigned In Court Over $620,000 Payment-Farouk Lawan, the former Chairman of House of Representative Ad-Hoc Committee on Oil Subsidy probe has appeared in Court over the sensational claim he sold out the country in a $3Million bribery scam,.
Farouk allegedly collected a sum of $620,000 part payment from one of the stakeholders in the subsidy imbroglio in 2012.
Appearing alongside Farouk is his colleague in the alleged crime, Boniface Emenalo, another influential member of the House who also played a part in the bribery scandal.
They were both re-arraigned on Wednesday for collecting $620,000 bribe in their course of national duty in a major national sell-out, culminating in economic sabotage through making bribe-influenced decision while serving in the committee.
The two members of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee probed a major scam in the fuel subsidy regime in 2012 and served personal interest making money and bringing the committee into disrepute.
The Independent and Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission re-arraigned the two of them on seven counts before Justice A.A.I Banjoko of a Federal Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja.
The re-arraignment followed the elevation of the former trial judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, formerly of the FCT High Court, to the Court of Appeal.
The development warranted the need for the matter to start afresh before another judge after unwarranted delay of the case in a major time playing tactics caused by stakeholders in the prosecution of the case. The delay tactics has rendered the national economic sabotage probe downgraded and devalued as the general public continue to allege that the current government had lost its credibility in fighting corruption especially at the top echelon of the administration.
The two legislators again pleaded not guilty to all the counts on Wednesday as they earlier did on February 1, 2013, when they were first arraigned.
They were accused of collecting the total sum of $620,000 bribe in April 2012 from the Chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, Mr. Femi Otedola, in order to remove his company’s name from the list of firms indicted by the committee.
Lawan and Emenalo were then the Chairman and Secretary (respectively) of House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime, whic probed the alleged subsidy scam.
After the accused persons took their plea, the defence counsel, Mr. O. Jolaawo, urged the court to allow the bail earlier granted his clients on February 8, 2013, by the former trial judge, to continue in the same conditions and terms, which they had both met.
The prosecuting lawyer, Mr. Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), did not oppose the application.
The judge granted the request but not until all the four sureties, two among whom stood for each of the accused persons, were present in court and agreed to continue to serve as the sureties for the two accused.
The former trial judge had then granted bail to the accused in the sum of N10m with two sureties each. They were also ordered to release their passport as part of the bail conditions.
Justice Banjoko fixed July 7 and 8 for definite hearing.
It will be recalled that the accused had challenged the competence of the charges preferred against them.
The earlier trial judge had refused to quash the charges as they requested, consequent upon which the accused persons appealed against the decision of the lower court.
But the Court of Appeal ruled upheld the ruling of the lower court ordering the accused to face trial.
Count one of the charge read, “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 him (Otedola) in the report of the adhoc committee, an offence punishable under section 8(1) of the same Act.