The Supreme Court, on Friday, dismissed an appeal by a former member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, against the judgments of the lower court which imprisoned him.
A Federal Capital Territory High Court had sentenced Lawan to seven years imprisonment for receiving a $500,000 bribe while serving as the chairman of the House’s ad-hoc committee investigating the fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.
The trial judge, Angela Otaluka, held that Lawan demanded $3m and received $500,000 from Femi Otedola in 2012 to remove Otedola’s oil company, Zenon Oil and Gas, from the list of firms indicted for fraud in the fuel subsidy regime.
She also held that Lawan was guilty of all three counts of corruption and bribery.
Not satisfied, Lawan approached the appellate court where his jail term was reduced from seven to five years.
Lawan approached the apex court, urging it to set aside the judgments of the lower courts.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice Tijani Abubakar upheld the decision of the appeal court and dismissed the appeal.
He said, “It is crystal clear that the failure of the trial court to call for allocutus does not affect the sentence passed on the appellant. This issue is resolved against the appellant. I find no merit in this appeal. It is hereby dismissed by me and affirmed the judgment of the court below which affirmed the conviction and the sentence of the appellant to five years imprisonment for count three on the charge. The appeal is hereby dismissed.”
In 2018, businessman, Otedola, accused the former House of Representatives member of demanding a $500,000 bribe from him to remove his company, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in fuel subsidy fraud.
Standing as a witness at a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja in 2021, Otedola said, Lawan removed his company from the list of indicted oil companies after he collected the money, adding that he was expected to pay a balance of $2.5 million to the lawmaker.
He said the money was given to him by the Department of State Services to set a trap for Lawan after he wrote a petition against him.
Otedola said he petitioned the DSS immediately Lawan demanded the bribe.
“Lawan said he was going to exonerate my company after giving him the money, security cameras were mounted in my living room to capture the exchange of money between me and the defendant
“The video is with the DSS, the money was given to him in two tranches $250,000 each,” he said.
Consequently, the court found him guilty of the three charges against him and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment for the first count; seven years for the second count; and five years for count 3.
The jail terms were to run concurrently.
The court also ordered him to return the $500,000 bribe in 2021.