Lawan’s Trial Stalled as Prosecutor Fails to Produce Witness

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

Trial of former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan, was stalled wednesday due to the inability of the prosecution to produce its witness.
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Lawan is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related offences Commission (ICPC) for allegedly “corruptly” collecting $500,000 out of the $3m bribe he requested from Otedola.

He is accused of accepting the bribe in exchange for the removal of Otedola’s company’s name – Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd from the list of firms indicted by the House committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.

At the resumption of proceedings yesterday before the Abuja High Court, in Lugbe, prosecution lawyer, Olajide Olaleye-Kumuyi told the trial judge, Justice Angela Otaluka that he could not produce the next prosecution witness.
He pleaded with the judge to postpone proceedings to another date, an appeal the judge heeded and adjourned to May 18.

The first prosecution witness, Boniface Emenalo, who was until recently a co-accused with Lawan, told the court on Tuesday that, on Otedela’s invitations, he met with him (Otedole) on April 22, 2012 ‎and on Tuesday April 24, 2012‎ at his home in Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja.

Emenalo said at his first meeting with Otedola, they had discussions on issues including those relating to the work of the committee and areas he (Otedola) could make suggestions. Emenalo denied receiving ‎$20,000 bribe from Otedola during their first meeting.

The witness confirmed that it was during the second meeting that Otedola gave him the $100,000 which he claimed to have handed to Lawan as exhibit.

“The money I collected from Otedola was meant to be an exhibit to prove that members of the ad-hoc were being pressurised. I informed my chairman (Lawan) and handed over the money my chairman,” Emenalo said.
When asked to read part of the two statements he made to the police during the investigation, the witness insisted that Otedola gave the money to him as a bribe.