This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: U.S.$620,000 Bribe - At Last, Farouk's Trial Begins Today

Just as the ultimatum by a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, expired Thursday, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has filed criminal charges against the former chairman of the House of Representative Ad hoc Committee on fuel subsidy regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan and the secretary of the committee, Mr. Emenalo Boniface.

The duo will be arraigned today before an Abuja High Court for allegedly receiving a bribe of $620,000 from a Lagos-based oil magnet, Femi Otedola.

The money was allegedly collected from Otedola to remove the name of his company, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the list of companies indicted in the fuel subsidy scam.

They were charged for contravening the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Commission Act.

Already, an Abuja High Court, sitting before Justice Mudashiru Oniyanagi has granted the Federal Government the permission to prefer a criminal charge under Section 185 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code against Lawan and his co-accused person, also an Assistant Director at the National Assembly.

Justice Oniyangi, while granting the ICPC's request to file the charges held: "Upon careful consideration of the application and attached documents in support of same filed by the complainant's counsel...Leave is hereby granted to the complainant/applicant to prefer criminal charge under section 185 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

"The case is fixed for the 1st day of Febuary, 2013 for arraignment."

The seven count-charge was filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs Olufunlayo Fatunde.

The embattled lawmaker and his co-accused will today make their plea.

Lawan and Emenalo were accused of conspiring between themselves to corruptly obtain $3 million Otedola as inducement to remove the name of his company from the fuel subsidy report.

Specifically, Lawan was accused of corruptly obtaining the sum of $500,000 from Otedola as an inducement to remove the name of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd from the fuel subsidy scam list.

In count five, Emenalo was alleged to have corruptly asked for $3 million from Otedola to remove the name of his company from the list of companies indicted in the fuel subsidy scam,

He was also accused of receiving gratification from the oil magnet and refused to report the offer of gratification to any officer of the ICPC.

Emenalo was also accused in count seven of receiving $120,000 as gratification from Otedola in order to remove his company's name from the report.

Emenalo was equally accused in count seven of receiving $120,000 as gratification from Otedola in order to doctor the report.

The offences of the accused persons are contrary to Sections10 (a)(ii), 17(1) (a), 23(1) 26 (1) (c) of the ICPC Act and punishable under Section, 8 (1), 17(1) (a) and 23 (3) of the same Act.

Recall that in the wake of oil subsidy crisis, the House of Representatives had set up an ad hoc committee headed by Lawan to probe the oil subsidy regime.

The committee indicted some oil companies and individuals of short-changing the subsidy regime to the tune of N1.7 trillion.

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