By Emmanuel Nduka
Ex-Chairman of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Probe Panel, Farouk Lawal has bagged a seven-year jail term for demanding $3million bribe from billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola.
Justice Angela Otaluka of the Abuja High Court sitting in Apo, convicted Farouk on all three count charges preferred against him by the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC.
For count one and two, the court sentenced him to seven years, while for count three he was sentenced to five years.
It would be recalled that Mr Otedola was alleged to have given bribe to Mr Lawal to remove his company’s name from the list of firms indicted for fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.
In 2018 during the trail, Otedola told the High Court of the FCT in Lugbe, Abuja, that he did not mount pressure on Lawan, to remove his company’s name from the list, stating that Lawal the then Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on investigation into fuel subsidy regime in 2012, got from him $500,000 out of the $3m the lawmaker demanded.
He testified as the fifth prosecution witness in Lawan’s trial on bribery charges.
The businessman who was led by the lead prosecuting counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), said, “I could not have put pressure on him because Zenon Oil was not involved in the theft of the subsidy fund.
“He did demand. And if he did not demand, why will he collect and expect a balance of $2.5m? He mentioned to me that the $3m will be shared by himself and some other members of the House”.
He said his company was not involved in the fuel subsidy regime and that there was no basis for it to be indicted, but Lawan only demanded money from him as a means of extortion.
“He mentioned to me that several companies that were involved in the scam were paying. And I reported to the DSS,” he said.
The Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, is prosecuting Lawan on amended four counts of corrupt collection of $500,000 out of the $3m bribe he allegedly requested from Otedola.
The sentences are to run concurrently even as the court also ordered that the defendant return the sum of $500,000 to the Federal Government.