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Two years on, Court finally takes plea from Lawan, Emenalo

By The Rainbow
Two years on, Court finally takes plea from Lawan, Emenalo
Two years on, Court finally takes plea from Lawan, Emenalo

The famous bribery case between former Chairman, House of Representative Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Alhaji Farouk Lawan, and oil magnet, Femi Otedola, has resurrected.

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Lawan and the secretary of the committee, Boniface Emenalo, were on Wednesday re-arraigned before the FCT High Court, Abuja, for allegedly obtaining $620,000 bribe money from Mr Femi Otedola.

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This case has lingered for two years and not a few Nigerians are beginning to wonder if the state was serious about prosecuting the culprits for the alleged offences.

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Lawan and Emenalo were slammed with a seven-count criminal charge bordering on obtaining $620,000 from an oil magnate, Otedola, in order to doctor the committee's report in favour of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd.

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They were first arraigned before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi on Feb. 2, 2013, but the elevation of the judge to the Court of Appealscuttled further hearing on the matter.

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As a result of that development, the case was moved to Justice Adebukola Banjoko.

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Counsel to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), while re-arraigning the accused, told the court that the duo conspired in April 2012 to demand three million dollars gratification from Otedola to remove his firm from the list of oil companies indicted for scam.

This Awomolo argued contravenes the provisions of Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

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According to the ICPC lawyer, their offence is punishable under Section 8 (1) of the same Act.

Emenalo was separately accused in count seven for receiving $120,000 as gratification from Otedola for the same purpose.

The prosecution said the action violates Section 10 (a)(ii) of ICPC Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 10 of the same Act.

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However, the accused persons through their lawyer pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them by the court.

Counsel to Lawan and Emenalo, Mr Omowale Jolawon, urged the court to allow his clients to continue with the N10 million bail granted to each of them and two sureties each in like sum.

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Banjoko, in her ruling acceded to their request to allow them to continue with the bail conditions granted by Justice Oniyangi.

She ordered the accused persons to present their sureties before the court, and adjourned the case until July 7 and 8 for accelerated trial.

Part of the bail term required the accused persons to submit their international passports with the court registrar, and restraint from traveling outside Nigeria without the permission of the court.