The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that a former member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, had a case to answer in respect of the $500,000 bribery charges preferred against him by the federal government.
A three-man panel of the court unanimously affirmed the October 17, 2019 ruling of Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, who had dismissed the no-case submission filed by the defendant.
Justice Peter Ige, who delivered the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday affirmed the FCT High Court ruling and dismissed the appeal filed by Lawan against the lower court’s decision.
Justice Ige resolved all the four issues raised in the appeal against the appellant and in favour of the respondent, which is the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation which is prosecuting the case at the FCT High Court.
He held that contrary to the appellant’s claim, there was no miscarriage of justice occasioned against Lawan by Justice Otaluka’s ruling ordering him to enter his defence in the trial.
Justice Ige ruled that the appeal lacked merit and ordered the defendant to return to the FCT High Court to open his defence.
The prosecution in the charges pending at the FCT High Court accused Lawan, as the then chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on investigation into fuel subsidy regime in 2012, of accepting $500,000 as a bribe for the removal of Mr. Femi Otedola’s company’s name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the list of firms indicted by the House committee for alleged fraud in the subsidy scheme.
Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), who led the prosecution on behalf of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, had called five witnesses, including Otedola, and tendered documents to prove his case.
But the defence led by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) filed a no-case submission praying the court to dismiss the charges without the need for Lawan to put up a defence on the grounds that the prosecution allegedly failed to establish the charges with the evidence led.
Ruling on October 17, 2019, Justice Otaluka held that contrary to Lawan’s contention, the prosecution had made out a case that required the former lawmaker’s explanation in defence.
She overruled the defendant’s no case-submission and ordered him to open his defence, a decision the Court of Appeal affirmed on Tuesday.