A’court refuses to stop Farouk Lawan’s $3m ‘bribery’ trial

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The court of appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed an application filed by Farouk Lawan, a former lawmaker, seeking to discontinue the $3 million bribery charges preferred against him by the federal government.

Lawan was the chairman of the house of representatives ad hoc committee probing the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.

He was accused of demanding $3 million from Femi Otedola to remove Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited (Otedola’s company) from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in the fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.

Lawan, who was arraigned on three counts of bribery by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), was alleged to have collected $500,000 bribe from Otedola.

He filed a no-case-submission after the prosecution closed their case having called five witnesses to give evidence.

However, Angela Otaluka, judge presiding over the trial, ordered Lawan to enter defence after ruling that no-case-submission filled by his counsel had no basis.

Aggrieved, Lawan went before the court of appeal seeking to upturn the trial court’s judgment in his favour.

Delivering judgment in the appeal on Tuesday, Olabisi Ige, who read the decision on behalf of a three-man panel, held that the decision of the lower court was well founded.

The panel also held that the language of the trial judge, which Lawan complained about, did not place the defendant in any disadvantage position.

The appellate court added that the prosecution has made a “prima facie” case against Lawan which he must answer to.

“I am of the view that the rejection of the no-case submission is well founded and that the ruling of the lower court has not occasioned any miscarriage of justice against the appellant,” Ige said.

“The language of the lower court calling on the appellant to enter upon his defence to make his defence if any has in no way placed the appellant in any disadvantage or jeopardy

“I am of the firm view and I have no doubt that the oral and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution sufficiently linked the appellant to the charges against him and to warrant his being called upon to make his defence.

“Prosecution evidence was not slanted in favour of the prosecution. In all, all the four issues raised in this appeal are hereby resolved against the appellant. His appeal, being un-meritorious is hereby dismissed.”

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