By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo, Abuja has convicted former member of House of Representatives Farouk Lawan for demanding $3million bribe and receiving $500,000 from a businessman, Femi Otedola.
Justice Angella Otaluka, in a judgment on Tuesday, convicted Lawan on the three-count charge on which he was tried by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Justice Otaluka proceeded to sentence him to seven years in respect of counts one and two and five years on count three.
The judge said the sentences are to run concurrently, implying that he will spend seven years in custody.
The judge ordered Lawan to refund the $500,000 he was found to have collected from Otedola to the coffers of the Federal Government.
He was said to have committed the offences while serving as the Chairman of House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Regime in 2012.
In the charge, marked: FCT/HR/CR/76/13, Lawan was accused of demanding $3million from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola.
He was alleged to have collected $500,000 out of the amount with a pledge to remove Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the ad-hoc committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
Justice Otaluka noted that the evidences listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel remain unshaken during cross-examination.
The judge added the conduct, responses and submissions of the defendant and witnesses in this case establish the charge in count two, which was that Lawan collected $500,000 as bribe to exonerate Zelon Petroleum and Gas from the fuel subsidy probe report.
Justice Otaluka noted that the defendant demanded for a balance of payment, after receiving the first and second tranches of the payment.
She noted that, as at the early hours of 24th April 2012 when the defendant received the second tranche, no complain was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies, contrary to his claim that he accepted the money to show as evidence before the House of Reps.
Justice Otaluka held that Lawan failed to convince the court that his acceptance of the bribe was to serve as evidence before the House’s Committee that Otedola wanted to bribe the Committee involved in the probe.
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