Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of an Abuja High Court yesterday remanded a former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Financial Administration, Hon. Farouk Lawan in Kuje prison custody.
The lawmaker was remanded with the secretary of the Ad hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime, Mr. Boniface Emenalo.
The Federal Government had brought the accused persons to court on a seven-count charge of alleged involvement in conspiracy to corruptly obtain $3million from an oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola to remove his two oil firms, Zenon Petroleum and Forte Oil from the list of indicted firms.
According to the prosecuting Federal Government, the offence is contrary to Sections 8(1), 10 (a)(ii), 17(1)(a), 23(1) and 26(1)(c), and punishable under Sections 8(1), 10, 17(1) and 23(3) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
The National Coordinator of the Rules Watch, Barrister Carol Ajie, appeared as observer while the court recorded her accordingly. Lawyer to the Federal Government, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), later urged the court to allow the accused persons to take their necessary pleas. But when the charge was read to Lawan and Emenalo, they pleaded 'not guilty' to the offence.
Awomolo also informed the court that the alleged offences attract two to seven years jail term.
According to the senior advocate, investigation into the case had been concluded, saying that he had filed his list of witnesses who are ready to testify.
Awomolo thereafter urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending the date of trial.
But the lawyer to the accused, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), informed the court that the defence team was served with the charge late yesterday, saying that a formal bail application was quickly filed. He added that the prosecution was also served with the copy of the bail application accordingly.
Tarfa later moved the bail application, arguing that the offence was a bailable one. He also urged the court to exercise its discretion and admit his clients to bail.
According to Tarfa, the accused are on administrative bail, adding that they have never violated it any of the grounds.
He said, "The first accused has had cause to travel out four times since the commencement of the investigation. He has been a member of the House since 1999. He is currently chairing the Committee on Financial Administration".
Tarfa further urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that the accused voluntarily submitted themselves and cited the cases of Onwubagu v. State, 2008, All Federation Law Report, (ALFR) pt. 420 at page 764 and that of Ebute v. State, 1994, 8 Nigeria Weekly Law Report (NWLR), pt. 360 at page 66 to buttress his argument.
But Awomolo opposed the bail application urged the court to note the nature of the offences and the likelihood of the Accused persons committing another one.
He said, "The offence the accused are charged for are corruption by public officer at the highest level particularly in the legislative arm. The accused person in his affidavit did not give undertaking that he will not be a member of another committee and that he will not demand or receive bribe".The group stated this in a statement signed by the media consultant to the AYCF, Mr Olubori Obafemi and made available to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND yesterday.