Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the federal government will this week commence the trial of former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Education, Mr. Farouk Lawan , for allegedly receiving $620,000 bribe from a businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, in order to strike out the name of his two oil firms, Zenon Oil and Forte Oil, from the list of indicted firms.
At the wake of oil subsidy crisis last year, the House of
Representatives had set up an adhoc-committee headed by Lawan to probe
the oil subsidy regime. This committee had indicted some oil firms and
individuals of short-changing the subsidy regime to the tune of N1.7trn.
The lawmakers consequently recommended their prosecution by the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
However, Otedola alleged that Farouk-led adhoc committee demanded $3
million from him, out of which he paid $0.6 million as gratification in
order for the committee to strike out the name of his company, Zenon
Oil, from the list of indicted firms.
Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, had on Tuesday given a
seven-day ultimatum to attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and the
minister of justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) to begin the court trial
of the lawmaker and his accomplice or else he (Keyamo) would commence
their prosecution as a private citizen.
Apparently bowing to Keyamo’s threat, the AGF on Friday told
journalists in Abuja that the federal government would this week begin
the trial of Lawan and one Mr. Boniface Emenalo over the bribery
But responding to questions over Keyamo’s threat, Chief Adegboyega
Awomolo (SAN), who has secured AGF’s fiat to prosecute Lawan, said that
Keyamo’s statement was capable of jeopardizing the process of
prosecuting Lawan except that the police had already finished its
investigation of the matter and had provided verifiable facts to the AGF
to commence the trial.
According to him: “Verifiable facts can only come from the police
that investigated the matter. You don’t investigate such matters based
on what you read on the newspapers or heard over the radio and
television. No, that is not investigation. The police have investigated
the matter and I can assure you that the AGF will not react to the
market talk. The matter will be in court next week.
‘’We will prosecute and not persecute. We are men of integrity,
honour and learning. Nobody should think that he can use the market
language or draw us to open debate on this matter. We are a not civil
society organization. AGF is the chief law officer under the
constitution and will exercise his power responsibly, and not
irresponsibly to satisfy whims and caprice of civil society
“Prosecution is a serious business and a serious statutory duty; it
is not a frivolous thing; you don’t do it to catch fancy or to make
people to hail you. These are persecutors and not prosecutors.’’
In Keyamo’s ultimatum, he had requested Adoke to indicate whether he
was prepared to prosecute Lawan or not, and accompanied the letter with a
draft charge in readiness to commence private prosecution if Adoke
failed to act.
According to Keyamo, his action was sequel to expiration of the ultimatum to the police to charge the lawmaker.
He attached to the criminal charge: the proof of evidence - a
recording of a telephone conversation between Lawan and Otedola
contained in a memory card wherein former was allegedly soliciting
gratification to doctor his report and appealing to the latter to keep
it secret; the transcript of the said recording and court processes
(including a sworn testimony on oath) between Zenon Pet. & Gas Ltd.
& Anor. V. Lawan & Ors, where the graphic details of how the
accused persons solicited for, and received gratification from Femi
Otedola were stated.