Ex-Lawmaker jailed 7 years over $500,000 bribe

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A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court sitting in Apo, Abuja, has sentenced Farouk Lawan, former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy, to seven years imprisonment over the $3 million bribery charges preferred against him by the Nigerian government.

While delivering the judgment, Justice Angela Ataluka, stated that the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

The judge sentenced him to seven years imprisonment in respect of counts one and two and five years on count three.

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.

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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.

In Suit No. FHC/HC/CR/76/2013, Lawan who the chairman of the committee probing the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy fraud in 2012 was accused of demanding $3 million from Femi Otedola to remove Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited (Otedola’s company) from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in the fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.

Lawan, who was arraigned on seven counts of bribery by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), was alleged to have collected $500,000 bribe from Otedola.

The charge was later amended to three counts.

Otedola, while giving evidence as the fifth prosecution witness, said the defendant demanded $3 million from him with a threat to indict his company.

The businessman said he proceeded to report the issue to the DSS and was given $500,000 in marked notes. Also, the DSS had planted a camera in Otedola’s house