The Chairman of Nigeria's House of Representatives Adhoc Committee for the probe of the oil subsidy, Hon. Lawan Farouk and the Committee's Secretary, Hon. Boniface Emenalo were on Friday arraigned before an Abuja High Court on a seven count charge for allegedly soliciting for and obtaining the sum of $620,000 from the chairman of Zenon Oil, Mr Femi Otedola.
Both lawmakers pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were however, remanded to Kuje Prison pending the court's ruling on their bail application.
Upon entering their "not guilty" plea as the charge was read to them, their lawyers, Mr. Rickey Tarfa and Chief Mike Ozhekome, both senior advocates of Nigeria moved their application for bail asking the court to grant them bail on self recognition.
According to Mr. Rickey Tarfa, the bail application is brought pursuant to sections 35 and 36(5) of the constitution as well as 340 and 341(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. He prayed the court to note that both Farouk and Emenalo had been granted administrative bails which terms they have consistently kept.
He further intimated the court that the accused persons had both travelled outside the country severally since investigation commenced on the matter but still returned to the country without absconding from justice.
He also told the court that his clients had so far visited the Police Force Headquarters a record of 37 times during the course of investigation into the matter which had been concluded and urged the court to grant them bail on self recognition as members of the House of Representatives where Farouk, has been a four term member and chairman of the Committee on Education and Finance as well as member of ECOWAS Parliament for the past 12 years.
Emenalo in Court
In opposing the application for bail, the counsel to the Federal Government, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN argued that the offences for which the lawmakers are standing trial are not ordinarily bailable as the offences are punishable by a 2 to 7 year jail term. He contended that an application for bail is that of equity which requires the court to exercise discretion both judiciously and judicially.
In furtherance to his opposition, Chief Awomolo pointed out that the lawmakers were part of the drafting of the ICPC Act 2000 and so were familiar with the law and its provisions and told the court that it should count against them that after making a law, they went and fouled the same law and urged the court to deny them bail and remand them in prison custody pending their trial.
Ruling over the application, the court presided by Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, observed that the application for bail was filed and moved same day and noted that the court needs time to look at the application with a view to reaching a decision on the lawmakers application for bail.
He thereafter ordered that Farouk and Emenalo should be remanded in Kuje prison until the ruling on their bail application which is fixed for 8th February.
Farouk and Emenalo are charged for their violation of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.