N625m bribe: Farouk Lawan asks court to suspend trial

Farouk Lawan

The lawmaker has filed an appeal against an earlier ruling by the court.

The former Chairman of the House of Representative Ad Hoc Committee on Subsidy Probe, Farouk Lawan, on Wednesday filed a motion before an Abuja High Court, seeking a stay of proceedings in the criminal case against him.

He is seeking a stay of proceeding in the case, pending the determination of his appeal.

Mr. Lawan is standing trial alongside Boniface Emenalo on a seven-count charge of allegedly obtaining N625 million bribe from oil magnate, Femi Otedola, the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd.

The Federal Government had on February 1, filed a seven-count charge against the two men, bordering on collection of N625 million alleged bribe, in order to doctor the report of the committee in favour of Zenon Oil and Gas.

In the application, Counsel to Mr. Lawan, Rickey Tarfa, filed a motion of stay of proceedings pending the determination of their appeal before the Court of Appeal.

Mr. Tarfa said his client filed an appeal challenging the earlier ruling of the court, which dismissed an application seeking to quash the charges contained in file no. FCT/HC/CR/76/2013 against the accused.

He said the motion was brought on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges.

The counsel said the appeal was not intended to delay the proceedings of the court, but to determine the innocence of the accused. He said the issue for determination was whether the court could exercise its discretion considering the material placed before it, adding that the court should exercise its discretion while there is a pending appeal against its ruling.

Mr. Tarfa further said that the application for stay of proceedings “is one that the court can exercise its discretion judiciously, based on the material placed before it.” He said the grounds of the appeal were competent and arguable, and did not constitute an abuse of court process.

“My lord, we submit that where an appeal of stay of proceedings is not granted, the right sought to be protected by the accused will be rendered null and void” Mr. Tarfa said.

Opposing the application, EFCC Counsel, Adeboyega Awomolo, said the motion for stay of proceedings was “frivolous, an abuse of court process and an attempt to stall the trial”.

Mr. Awomolo, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the application.

“My lord, we oppose the motion on the grounds that the application failed to show any special circumstances to grant a stay of proceedings. It is the court that can exercise its discretion to grant the application.

“My lord, the grounds of their appeal did not raise any point of law or the provision of the constitution,” Awomolo said, and urged the court to refuse the application.

The Presiding Judge, Mudashiru Oniyangi, adjourned the case to July 10 for ruling on the application for stay of proceedings.

(NAN)


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