Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo have finally been charged to court
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation has succumbed to pressure and threats from activist lawyers and filed charges against a members of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan and a House committee secretary, Boniface Emenalo, accused of corruption.
The duo were accused of collecting $620, 000 (N93 million) from Femi Otedola, in April last year, as inducement to remove the oil mogul’s Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of companies indicted by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime.
The charges filed against both lawmakers on January 29 before Justice M.N. Oniyangi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court include corruptly agreeing to obtain $3 million (N450 million) from Mr. Otedola in order to favour his company in the committee’s report.
The seven-count charge of conspiracy and corrupt enrichment also accused Mr. Lawan, who was the Committee Chairman, of collecting $500, 000 (N75 million) from the billionaire businessman.
It further accused Mr. Emenalo, the Committee’s Secretary, of failing to report the offer of gratification to any officer of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, as well as collecting $120, 000 (N18 million) from Mr. Otedola.
A shocked nation
Most Nigerians were shocked at the news that Mr. Lawan, who had been nicknamed ‘Mr. Integrity’ by his numerous admirers, allegedly stuffed wads of dollar bills into his cap.
And then there was outrage as the matter appeared to have been swept under the carpet as the police, anti-corruption agencies and the attorney-general stalled in the investigation.
Although both politicians, in separate statements to the police, allegedly confessed to collecting the bribe claiming it was done to implicate the businessman; charges were not brought against them since the incident, eight months ago.
While the police said they were awaiting the Attorney General’s office to press charges, the latter gave no reason why the accused persons had not been charged to court.
As the sordid details of the scandal gradually came to light last year, an embarrassed House of Representatives restored Mr. Otedola’s companies to the list of companies indicted in the fuel subsidy scam.
The House further stripped Mr. Lawan of his chairmanship positions in other House Committees and then suspended him.
Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, was among the first to publicly speak out, in recent weeks, insisting that the officials be prosecuted for their role in the scam.
“Honourable Lawan further revealed that he had informed the EFCC that he was under pressure to collect the bribe,” Mr. Falana had said.
Days later, another lawyer, Festus Keyamo, went a step further by threatening to resort to private prosecution if the Attorney General’s office fails to charge the duo within seven days.
On the day Mr. Keyamo’s ultimatum expired on Tuesday, January 29, the Attorney General of the Federation filed the charges against the lawmakers.
Download the charge sheets below.
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