By Ogechi Okorie
Abuja (Precise Post) – Former member of the House of Representatives from Kano State, Farouk Lawan was yesterday convicted by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo, Abuja for demanding a $3million bribe and receiving $500,000 from oil mogul Femi Otedola.
Justice Angella Otaluka convicted Lawan on the three-count charge on which he was tried by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
The judge sentenced him to seven years in respect of counts one and two, and five years on count three.
The judge said the sentences are to run concurrently, implying that he will spend seven years in jail.
The judge ordered Lawan to refund the $500,000 he was found to have collected from Otedola to the coffers of the Federal Government.
Lawan was a four-term member of the House of Representatives, who represented Bagwai/Shanono Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He committed the offence while serving as the Chairman of House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Regime in 2012
ICPC accused Lawan of demanding $3million from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola.
He was alleged to have collected $500,000 out of the amount with a pledge to remove Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the ad-hoc committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
Justice Otaluka noted that the evidence listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel was unshaken during cross-examination.
The judge added that the conduct, responses and submissions of the defendant and witnesses established the charge in count two, which was that Lawan collected the sum of 500,000 dollars, as a bribe to exonerate Zelon Petroleum and Gas from the fuel subsidy probe report.
Justice Otaluka noted that the defendant demanded a balance of payment, after receiving the first and second instalments.
She noted that, as at the early hours of April 24, 2012, when the defendant received the second tranche, no complaint was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies, contrary to his claim that he accepted the money as a piece of evidence.
Justice Otaluka held that Lawan failed to convince the court that his acceptance of the bribe was to serve as evidence before the House’s Committee that Otedola wanted to bribe the committee members.