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Former Reps committee chairman Farouk Lawan jailed for seven years over $3m bribe

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A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has sentenced the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Farouk Lawan to seven years in prison.

Lawan was, in 2012, arraigned before the court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on three counts for soliciting bribe to remove Femi Otedola and his then company Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of companies that were alleged to be involved in fuel subsidy fraud.

Although Lawan had denied being involved, the court found him guilty of the three-count charge on Tuesday.

The presiding judge Angela Otaluka, in her judgment, noted that the evidence listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel remained unshaken during cross-examination.

The judge also noted that the conduct, responses and submissions of the defendant and witnesses in the case established the charge in count one, which stated that Lawan demanded the $3m bribe.

Count two stated that Lawan collected the sum of $500,000 as bribe to remove Otedola and his company from the list of persons and organisations indicted for the fuel subsidy scam.

Otaluka held that evidence presented before the court showed that Lawan demanded the balance after receiving the first and second tranches of the payment.

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The judge added that as at the early hours of April 24, 2012 when the accused received the second tranche, no complaint was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies, despite his claims that he accepted the money to show as evidence before the House.

According to the judge, Lawan failed to convince the court that he accepted the cash as evidence that Otedola wanted to bribe the committee involved in the probe.

Lawan was sentenced to seven years on counts one and two, and five years on count three.

The sentences are to run concurrently.

The court also ordered that the defendant return the sum of $500,000 to the Nigerian government.

Vincent Ufuoma is a reporter with The ICIR. He is a lover of God, truth, knowledge and justice.

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