Farouk Lawan Trial: Co-accused, Emenalo, turns star witness against ex-lawmaker

Farouk Lawan

The trial of a former member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, over allegations that he received $620,000 bribe from oil magnate Femi Otedola, resumed Tuesday at an Abuja High Court, with Mr. Lawan’s co-accused turning against the former lawmaker as the key prosecution witness.

Mr. Lawan also lost an all his applications before the court on Tuesday.

The former lawmaker chaired a House committee that investigated a multibillion fraud associated with government fuel subsidy. He allegedly received bribe from Mr. Otedola, to exclude his firm from the list of indicted companies.

Mr. Lawan was first arraigned in 2012 alongside the secretary of the House ad hoc committee, Boniface Emenalo.

But docked before Justice Angela Otaluka of the FCT High Court, Lugbe, on Tuesday, Mr. Lawan was informed of fresh amended charges against him alone. 

Mr. Emenalo, who was a co-accused served as the main prosecution witness for the Independent Corrupt Practices and other matters Commission, ICPC. 

Sources at the commission told PREMIUM TIMES that a deal was reached with Mr. Emenalo to serve as prosecution witness for his charges to be dropped.

The duo were formerly facing a seven-count charge of bribery, an offense that violates Section 10 (a) (ii) of ICPC Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 10 of the same Act.

They were alleged to have conspired in April 2012 to demand $3 million gratification from Mr Otedola. 

In the original charge, Mr. Emenalo was accused of collecting $120,000, while Mr. Lawal received $500,000. 

The new charge read Tuesday, accused only Mr. Lawan of receiving $500,000. 

Before, the trial began, the counsel for Mr. Lawan, Sekop Zumka, told the court of the application before it challenging its jurisdiction based on the amended charges.

“Jurisdiction is fundamental to any criminal proceedings especially where the defendant is ready and willing to defend the charge against him,” he said.

Mr. Zumka asked the court to set down the motion for hearing which was filed on January 28, 2016.

Dismissing the application, Justice Angela Otaluka cited extant laws of procedure of Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 2015 and stated that amendments made to the charges were meant to ensure speedy dispensation of justice to all parties.

She said Mr. Lawan was standing trial in a court of the Federal Capital Territory and was being prosecuted by a Federal Government Agency, the ICPC, which was a creation of an Act of the National Assembly.

The judge ruled that the plea made by the defendant could only be considered when the court was heading to judgment stage.

Another loss suffered by Mr. Lawan and his team was the oral application by Mr. Zumka to adjourn the commencement of hearing to Wednesday February 3.

 

Mr. Zumka based his application on the fact that the lead counsel, Ricky Tarfa, and co-lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, who were absent in court, were “both interested in taking the trial personally”.

He also stated that even the prosecution counsel, Awomolo, who is also a Senior Advocate “would prefer to face an equal match”. The lawyer said the two lead counsel were not in court based on the assumption that trial would not commence Tuesday since there was an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

“He also said it was only “fair that the defendant, who hired the services of Senior Advocates is allowed to enjoy their services,” Mr. Zumka assured that the request to adjourn commencement of trial was not intended to delay prosecution in anyway.

The prosecution counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, objected to the application arguing that Mr. Zumka had earlier introduced himself as a counsel to the defendant “not holding brief for anyone”.

He also said all counsel on the matter were aware of the commencement of trial over 30 days ago. He said the prosecution had brought in witnesses “everywhere”.

Justice Otaluko, agreed with the prosecution and ruled that trial should commence immediately.

She said there was nothing before her to show that all counsel who should have been in court were not round for any admissible reasons.

Following the ruling, the prosecution called its first witness, Mr. Emenalo, to the stand and Mr. Awomolo asked him to identify a document, which was a subpoena to the Clerk of the House of Representatives asking him to release some official documents in his possession to the plaintiff, the ICPC.

When Mr. Emenalo identified the subpoena, Mr. Awomolo sought to tender it as evidence before the court. The defence counsel however, objected to its admissibility.

The prosecution thereafter submitted seven documents which were also identified by the witness, Mr. Emenalo, as order paper for a special session of the House of Representatives which held on Sunday January 8, 2012, the votes and proceedings of the special session, also dated Sunday January 8, 2012 and another Order Paper of the sitting of the House of Representatives which held on Wednesday 18 April 2012.

Other documents identified by Mr. Emenalo include the votes and proceedings of Wednesday 18 April, 2012 as well as an Order Paper of the sitting of the House on Tuesday, April 24, 2012; the votes and proceedings of the sitting of April 24 and a report of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee set up to verify and determine the actual subsidy requirement and monitor the implementation of the subsidy regime in Nigeria.

Justice Otaluka agreed with the prosecution and admitted all seven documents and marked them as evidence.

Citing Section 104 of the Evidence Act, Justice Otaluka said the documents are all relevant to the criminal trial and thereby admitted as evidence.

The judge however ordered the prosecution to make payments for certification of the documents within seven days.

She then adjourned the matter to Tuesday, February 9, for the prosecution to continue its cross examination of its first witness, Mr. Emenalo.


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  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    There is no honour amongst thieves. Emenalo is equally a crook who must not be set free even after testifying . They were both caught on video extorting bribes from Odetola,both must go to jail.

    • David Adeniran

      What normally happen in cases like that in responsible jurisdictions is that the witness will thereafter be prosecuted and given a lenient sentence.

    • Sani Bulala

      Exactly and he -Emenelo has been busy building mansions and private amusement parks in Apo Legislatiors Quaters in Abuja.#caughtoncamera#livinglarge#snitching#starwitness.

    • aisha ani

      Lawan also had the option of throwing Emenalo under the bus but he left it too late, “you snooze you lose”. Another one like this is Aluko and Fayose.

  • Rommel

    It does appear that only senior advocates represent people involved in fraud,well, this says a lot about that designation as fraud related

    • David Adeniran

      They criminals pay them as much as the devil is ready to pay anyone on suicide mission and since their Honour is For Sale, they go for the money.

  • Victor Aikhionbare

    Snitch biiiaaàtch! Even though I no blame am too much. I would have done the same thing. You gats to ja fun ori re.

  • IZON Redeemer

    Yesterday the Apes in APC alleged that it was Jonathan and his Ijaw tribesmen who set the Fulani man-Lawal up with Adetola. Now Nko? Is it Jonathan who is chasing them form Ibadan to Sokoto with Adetola? This event took place under the speakership of Tambuwal who was also alleged to have shared the money with these old regional crooks. Sadly the dollars are no where to be found by the SSS, that provided the money in that sting operation. So an Ibo manu who also partook in watering his mouth with the money had to be truned into a CROWN WITNESS for the prosecution. The Apes in APC are also quiet now that Jonathan is gone–with their dirty allegation that Jonathan was using—Adetola to pull the Fulanis ati the Yorubas down-Tribalism again abi? It is nothing but the truth! Nigeria is a tribal society period—As we patiently await the day Fashola, Amaechi, Tinubu, Danbazua, Fayemi, and Prof Yakubu head of INEC–will be put in the dock-then and only then, shall we know Buhari never got 5 vehicles and 300,000 dollars—————–from Dasuki–who tried to serve his Fulani brother while with Ijaw man Jonathan: Animals

  • Dazmillion

    Emenalo should serve reduced time and not have the whole charges against him dismissed because he has become a witness. This type of bargain will lead to people who have committed serious crimes going scot free. By the way who regulates this bargains?

    • kinsly

      The deal is fair enough,he must have agreed to refund his own share and act as prosecution witness. That’s standard practise.

    • Peter_Edo

      it is fair enough bro, Emenalo didnt keep the money he received, he handed it over to his boss. like nneka araraume to olisa metuh…

  • COL HASSAN KILL ALL IJAWS

    The Presidency, Tuesday night, reacted to reports by an online newspaper that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government is proposing to spend N3.87 billion on capital projects at the State House Medical Centre, Aso Rock, Abuja.

    President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Villa

    President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Villa

    The breakdown of line items in the 2016 Appropriation Bill shows that a total of N3.87billion was allocated for capital projects at the State House Clinic,

    Senior Special Adviser to the President on (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu in a statement explained that the State House Clinic is not the President’s or anyone’s personal clinic but one which looks after government officials and others.

    According to him, increased spending on government health institutions in the current budget should be seen in the light of President Buhari administration’s plan to improve medical facilities at home, as well as discourage medical tourism by citizens which impact negatively on the country’s foreign reserve.

    The statement reads: “We react to the story: “2016 Budget: Buhari to spend more on State House Clinic than on all federal govt-owned teaching hospitals.”

    “This report is not simply off the mark but one that is insensitive to the government’s effort to improve medical facilities at home in Nigeria.

    “According to the draft 2016 budget presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the budget for the State House Clinic is N3.8billion.

    “Contrary to the published newspaper report, the total for health institutions as given by the Director-General, Budget Office is more than N200 billion. 17 teaching hospitals have more than 50 percent of that allocation.

    “Anyone interested can check out the detailed allocations to the teaching hospitals, the federal medical centers and the specialist hospitals owned by the federal government.

    “It is also important to explain that the State House Clinic is not the President, or anyone’s personal clinic but one which looks after government officials and many others who are not.

    “The increased spending on government health institutions in the current budget should be seen in the light of the administration’s plan to improve medical facilities at home as a way of discouraging overseas trips in search of treatment by citizens which eat away from our foreign exchange.” unquote–Even a mad man will find better reasons for the theft of my oil revenue by Buhari and the Apes in APC-Obama who installed Buhari as president of Nigeria will leave the White House the day Amaericans discover he is planning to spend more on the white house clinic than the ones attended by commoners——————Not every Amaerfcina can walk into the White House or Aso Rock clinic-The truth of the matter is Buhari is bigger thief than Abacha—Animals

    • Damilola

      Garbage Shehu couldn’t have done better sir. It’s not easy defending a daytime armed robber

      • IZON Redeemer

        I will not hire such as a News Assistant—–not to talk of heading a media team including the Minister of Mis-Information Liar Mohamed–How can a government spokesperson justify the waste–saying the Aso rock Clinic is being allocated more money than all the teaching hospitals in Nigeria where research on various types of ailments are done daily-?-That person must be insane—-Is that what is obtainable in the White House in the USA from where we borrowed our constitition–?————-Buhari is worse than Abacha in stealing this Fulani man is a rogue——I think Buhari is just out to recoup what was recovered from Abacha in aso rock—period——–Animals

  • Edmund Willy-Harry

    Dear Sir,

    Premium Times should please go further to find out the agreement between EFCC and Boniface Emenalo.
    We know that Boniface Emenalo was initially charged for taking $120,000 bribe from the same Femi Otedola.
    Now, Boniface Emenalo, agrees to testify for EFCC against Farouk Lawan who took $500,000 bribe from Otedola.
    What we want to know is this: what will now happen to the $120,000 Boniface Emenalo took as bribe from Otedola?
    If he is no longer charged as co-accused (as a prosecution witness) has he forfeited his own $120,000 bribe to EFCC?

    • kinsly

      He would have agreed to refund,that’s the best deal he can get under Buhari Government.

  • kuli

    So the Biafrans too do snitch. I thought it was only an Oduduwa affair! Lolz.
    Where are the empty chest beaters? Come defend your treacherous son.

  • FreeNigeria

    Lawan gonna be the first among the big dishonorable thieves parading as lawmakers to go to jail. many more to follow soon.

  • Sani Bulala

    Boniface Emenelo is busy building mansions with personal amusement parks in Apo & having been caught on camera collecting 120,000 USD from Otedola he suddenly turns star prosecution witness?.Very laughable!.Pls Premium Times complete your excellent reporting Emenelo’s mansion and park is located on No 20,Saidu Barde Close,Apo Legislature Quaters,Zone D,Ist Gate ,Apo –
    Abuja.

  • Cleartruth

    Though ICPC is very slow, but this the best way to get people convicted for corruption. Getting emenalo become the star witness is the way to go or else you loose the case completely. Efcc should borrow a leave from this.

    • Peter_Edo

      EFCC is doing same. recall the first witness to Metuh, Nneka Araraume. she laundered money for Metuh but she wasn’t charged anything. methinks they first got to her and threatened her as she would be an accomplice then offered that she snitch in return for immunity which as we all saw, she did!

  • Contact Point

    I would want Femi Otedola to equally face prosecution because the giver is as guilt as the receiver of bribe. If he/his company is not truly indicted for subsidy fraud, why did he offered or agreed to offer bribe in the first place? Otedola must also face criminal prosecution for offering bribe to the committee in order to pervert justice.

    • Mayo

      Otedola reported the demand for bribe to the SSS. The SSS asked him to go ahead and taped further conversations between Otedola and Farouk. This is the reason the case came to light. Since Otedola received the blessing of the authorities to participate in what is essentially a sting operation, you can’t accuse/charge Otedola of giving bribe.

      • Babso

        In sting operations, the bribe taker are not allowed to go with the money. They plan to get him arrested at the point of collection so as to have it as concrete evidence in the law court. Can you explain why someone will drop $620k just like that without looking back, himself must also be a criminal.

        • Mayo

          You have raised valid points. But the questions you are posing should be directed at the SSS and Police and not Otedola since both of them have agreed (at least the SSS if I remember correctly) agreed that Otedola came to them and reported the demand for bribe from Lawan.

          In summation, the original comment by ‘Contact Point’ does not hold water because Otedola only gave the money based on the go ahead of the SSS. As such he cannot be accused of giving bribe.

  • Pure Reasoning

    This is the reason why administration of justice for big fish always delay and sometime delayed indefinitely. Imagine, this case has been going on since 2012 and 4 years later, they are just beginning with the trial proper. If this was a case of a someone who stole a pot of soup, the case would have been dispensed with long time ago and not suffer this incessant adjournment that a type YAM eat case faces. I hope this trial do not go more than 5 months before this alleged YAM eater is sentenced or acquitted. There are too many big time YAM eater in Nigeria whose cases go years without hearing. It just have to stop.

  • Burning Spear

    ‘Fake’ Weapons bought by Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan From China And Russia Are Helping Our Troops To Crush the Islamist Terrorists, Boko Haram.

    Buhari have NOT bought a single Pistol since he assumed office 8 Months ago for our gallant troops, but is now descending so low to call the weapons our Agile Military are using fake and substandard. Because he is out to give more to his Fulani brothers killing Nigerians in the North—-Again what did Buhari use the 4.4trillion budget last year for-Why< are Nigerian quiet over the ongoing stealing of what was léeft in our National vault by Jonathan–Buhari is only out to recoup what was recovered from Abacha—-That is his only ambition for baing smuggled into Aso Rock by the USA with the AID OF THE Apes in APC–now they are using the head of an Ibo man to settle old scores in their old regional thieveries- of ( their) Nigeria—-Animals