The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, is excited over the conviction and subsequent sentencing of an erstwhile member of the House of Representatives, Hon Farouk Lawal. The group made the position known in a statement signed by its director of administration and programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the its chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran.
“We at CACOL, therefore, congratulate the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for a job well done and for its meticulous and diligent prosecution of this case despite the long years involved in the litigation.
We would recall that in Suit No. FHC/HC/CR/76/2013, Lawan, a former House of Representatives member representing Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015 and former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy in 2012, was brought before the court over a $3m bribery charge filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission on behalf of the Federal Government”.
Lawal was accused of demanding bribe to the tune of $3m and obtaining $500,000 from oil magnate, Femi Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, as inducement to remove his company from the list of those indicted before the House of Reps Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy.
While deposing his evidence, Otedola, told the court that he did not mount pressure on Lawan to remove his company’s name from the list of firms indicted over the 2012 fuel subsidy fraud as alleged by the defendant. According to him, Lawan, then chairman of the ad hoc committee, collected $500,000 of the $3m the former lawmaker demanded.
Apparently convinced by the evidence adduced, the court found the defendant guilty on all counts and sentenced him appropriately.
Meanwhile, CACOL is demanding that relevant authorities must consider the case’s many questions still begging for consideration. For instance, while wondering if the sting operation that nabbed Lawan has exonerated the bribe giver, Otedola, CACOL opines that the firm’s conduct should also be looked into given that its name would not have been in the house of representatives ad-hoc committee list in the first instance if there was no case against it.
“Does the successful “sting” operation, exonerate Femi Otedola’s Zenon Oil of culpability? We want to believe that if there was no case against his firm, the name of the firm won’t be on the list in the first place. Has the firm been exonerated or cleared by any court of law”?
Among others, CACOL also wants to know if the sting operation that nabbed Lawan exculpated Zenon Oil of culpability, just as it wants explanations over the outcome of the case against other firms and individuals named in the fuel subsidy scandal.
“Does the successful “sting” operation, exonerate Femi Otedola’s Zenon Oil of culpability? We want to believe that if there was no case against his firm, the name of the firm won’t be on the list in the first place. Has the firm been exonerated or cleared by any court of law?
What happened to other firms and individuals that were fingered in the fuel subsidy scandal? What is their fate now? We would want the public to know,” CACOL demanded.
While being obviously excited over the rising hope that the Judiciary is determined to live up to its name, CACOL enjoins security agencies not to dismiss Lawan’s alibi as his involvement in the scandal may indeed be a frame-up of some sort.
“The law enforcement agencies should not wave Farouk Lawan’s alibi aside. His involvement in the bribery scandal could have been a frame-up after all. It could also be due to his negligence nevertheless, he is guilty as charged and we are happy that the law took its cause. For someone who headed the integrity group in the National Assembly, and earned himself the nickname “Mr. Integrity” his argument of frame up should not be dismissed and should also be investigated so as to be sure that those who are fighting corruption in the high places are not sacrificed on the altar of convenience. It is a known fact that corruption criminals are rich, powerful, influential and crookedly smart. They could create powerful networks and most of the times they can attempt to buy anything over including witnesses, evidences and even law enforcement officers and framing up someone who wants to get them to justice may not be outside their purview. So investigators should look into Lawan’s claim of alleged setup and come out with their report. This would encourage other well meaning Nigerians to be ready to come out and blow the whistle when it becomes necessary and do the needful whenever such duty keeps calling.”
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