The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, sentenced Farouk Lawan, a former member of the House of Representatives, to seven years’ imprisonment for receiving N500,000 bribe while serving as the chairman of the House’s ad-hoc committee investigating the fraud around fuel subsidy in 2012.
Angela Otaluka, the trial judge, found Mr Laman guilty of all the three counts of corruption and bribery.
Delivering judgment in the case, Ms Otaluka said Mr Lawan demanded N3 million and received $500,000 from Femi Otedola, a Nigerian billionaire oil mogul in 2012.
He took the bribe to remove Mr Otedola’s oil company, Zenon Oil and Gas, from the list of firms indicted for fraud in the fuel subsidy regime, the judge ruled.
‘Mr Integrity, cap banker’
PREMIUM TIMES had detailed how Mr Lawan, was seen in a video clip concealing wads of dollar bills he took from Mr Otedola in his cap.
He later replaced the cap on his head after stuffing it with the foreign currency notes.
The prosecution said the video clips were recorded at Mr Otedola’s Abuja residence in a sting operation organised along with the State Security Service (SSS).
The court was told Mr Lawan was captured during his visits to Mr Otedola to negotiate and take the bribe.
Part of the clips were tendered as evidence and played in the open court for the view of the judge and others witnessing the proceedings at the time of the trial.
The revelation in the video clips had jolted many members of the Nigerian public who had popularly nicknamed him Mr Integrity due to his anti-corruption posture as a veteran lawmaker.
A member of then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Shanono/Bagwai constituency of Kano state, Mr Lawan, the diminutive former lecturer, had been re-elected four times, and was planning to contest the 2015 governorship election.
The development ruined his reputation and political career.
Delivering the judgement that lasted over three hours on Tuesday, the judge held that the prosecution led by Adegboyega Awomolo, proved his case beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Lawan demanded and received a bribe.
“The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant (Mr Lawan) demanded and received the sum of $500,000 from Mr Femi Otedola in order to exonerate his oil firm from an investigation by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe.
“The ingredients of Count 1, 2 and 3, have been established by the prosecution.
“The defendant, being a public officer in 2013, obtained the sum of $500,000 from Mr Otedola for his personal use. His visit to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was an afterthought.
“I hereby find the defendant guilty of counts 1, 2 and 3 of the charge,” the judge held.
She then sentenced Mr Lawan to seven years in prison for counts 1 and 2, each and to five years’ imprisonment for Count 3.
“I therefore order and sentence the defendant to a term of seven years imprisonment for corruptly asking for a bribe of three million dollars and receiving $500,000 as part of the bribe. This is for counts 1 and two.
“On Count 3, the defendant is sentenced to five years imprisonment without an option of fine,” the court declared.
Not done, the judge ordered Mr Lawan to make restitution of the $500,000 bribe he took from Mr Otedola to the Nigerian government.
“Restitution order is hereby made. The defendant is to return the sum of 500,000 dollars he received from Mr Otedola and remit the same to the federal government. This is the judgement of the Court,” Ms Otaluka said.
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