$620,000 Bribe: FG Reopens Farouk Lawan’s Trial Tuesday
The Federal Government will Tuesday reopen the trial of a former Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, , and its ex-Secretary, Boniface Emenalo for allegedly obtaining $620,000 bribe money from Femi Otedola, chairman of Forte Oil.
Lawan and Emenalo were first arraigned on a seven-count charge before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja on February 2, 2013.
They were, in the charge filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Commission (ICPC) accused of receiving the $620, 000 as bribe from Otedola, ostensibly to exclude the names of Otedola’s companies – Zenon Petroleum and Gas as well as Synopsis Enterprises Limited – from the list of companies found to have allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of billions of naira in the petroleum subsidy scam, which their committee was created to investigate.
Before the prosecution could proceed to trial, Lawan and Emenalo appealed the decision of a High Court, to the effect that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against them
On May 12, 2014 the Court of Appeal, Abuja dismissed their appeal on the ground that was without merit. But before proceedings could resume again at the trial court, Justice Oniyangi was elevated to the Court of Appeal, prompting the court’s Chief Judge to reassign the case to another judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Gudu division of the High Court of the FCT.
Lawan had in a petition addressed to the court’s Chief Judge, sought the re-assignment of the case to another judge on the ground that Justice Banjoko was close to Otedola, who was the accuser and a proposed prosecution witness in the case.
Shortly after the petition, Lawan’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) filed a motion and requested Justice Banjoko to disqualify herself from further handling the case on the same grounds of likelihood of bias.
Justice Banjoko subsequently withdrew from the case on November 2014 and returned the case file to court’s Chief Judge.
The Nation learnt Monday that the case has since been reassigned to Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the FCT in Lugbe, Abuja, before who the case is to start afresh today.