By Ogechi Okorie
Abuja (Precise Post) – Federal High Court sitting in Apo has warned former House of Representatives member Farouk Lawan against causing any further delay in his trial else it will foreclose his defence if he fails to produce his witnesses in court by April 30.
Precise Post recalls that Lawan, who was the chairman of House Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Regime in 2012, is being tried by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
A four-term member of the House of Representatives, who represented Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015, in the case marked FCT/HR/CR/76/13, was alleged to have demanded $3million for himself from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, Femi Otedola.
He was alleged to have collected $620,000 out of the amount with a view to removing Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the ad hoc committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Angela Otaluka warned that she will foreclose Lawan’s defence if he fails to produce his witnesses in court by April 30.
The judge, who said she would foreclose the defendant from further defending himself in the case, noted that the court had indulged Lawan enough, having granted him 11 adjournments as against the five stipulated by the law.
She noted that it was a misconception on the part of the defence counsel to have argued that by Section 396 (5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (AJCA), window of adjournment has not closed even after exhausting the maximum five adjournments.
The judge held that it is not in the interest of justice to delay hearing of a case, adding that it is not the duty of the court to serve subpoena on a witness, but only to provide a bailiff.
Justice Otaluka was of the view that the process required that when the court provided the bailiff, it was the duty of the defendant and his counsel to follow the bailiff to serve the subpoena.