In a high profile trial that lasted over eight years, the long but slow arm of the law finally caught up with a former chairman of the House Adhoc-Committee on Petroleum Subsidy, Senator Farouk Lawan.
Embattled Senator Lawan was sentenced to seven years in prison on Tuesday by a High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in a case that was first heard in February 2, 2013 by Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi.
Lawan was found guilty of count one, two, and three bothering on corruptly asking for and obtaining same from Femi Otedola, in order to exonerate Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of companies in the fuel subsidy scam.
Count one stated that the former Chairman, ad hoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime corruptly asked the Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola, for a bribe of $3 million as an inducement to remove the name of his company from the report of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.
The presiding judge, Justice Angela Otaluka, noted that the evidence listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel, remain unshaken during cross-examination.
The judge also noted that the conduct, responses, and submissions of the defendant and witnesses, in this case, establish the charge in the count.
Count two stated that the defendant collected the sum of $500,000 as a bribe to exonerate Zenon petroleum and gas from the fuel subsidy probe report.
Justice Otaluka also said that the defendant demanded a balance of payment, after receiving the first and second tranche of the payment, and as at the early hours of 24th April 2012 when the accused received the second tranche, no complaint was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies, as he claims he accepted the money to show as evidence before the house.
The judge further said the defendant failed to convince the court that his acceptance of the said bribe was to serve as evidence before the House Committee that the Chairman of Zenon Petroleum wanted to bribe the Committee involved in the probe.
For count one and two the court sentenced Lawan to seven years while for count three he was sentenced to five years. The sentences are to run concurrently.
He was also ordered to return the sum of $500,000 to the Federal Government.
RovingNaija recalls that Lawan was first arraigned by the Independent and Financial Crimes Commission (ICPC in 2013), when, as the chairman of the Adhoc sub-committee on petroleum subsidy, he found Zenon Petroleum and Gas Company which belonged to Femi Otedola, guilty spurious subsidy claims.
However, instead of following the rules of the senate by reporting to the Red Chamber for further action, he surreptitiously demanded a bribe of $3m to clear Zenon of the accusation. But nemesis caught up with him when the Chairman of Zenon, outsmarted him by recording his bribe-taking scenes.
The rest, as the saying goes, is now history.