$3m Bribery Scandal: Court Dismisses Lawan’s Motion to Recall Witness

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

 A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Lugbe, Abuja wednesday dismissed an application filed by the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan, seeking to recall a prosecution witness.

 The application was dismissed in a ruling delivered by the trial judge, Justice Angela Otaluka.

Lawan through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) had approached the court for an order to recall Prosecution Witness Two (PW2), David Igbodo, Deputy Commissioner of Police (substantive), on the grounds that the defence was actually foreclosed even before it finished with its cross examination of the PW2.“We need to recall the witness because we have not finished and this is a criminal case that involves the liberty of a citizen of the country, because he is their star witness, we need to take him apart, a job we have started and we need to finish,” Ozokhome told the court.

The prosecution counsel,  Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), in objecting the application, urged the court to express its discretion on facts and not on speculations, as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) is not a licence to overrule decisions taken by the court.

The trial court in its ruling, held that since it had closed the cross-examination of the witness, even though it had the powers to revisit its own order, the order for foreclosure of the witness stands.

At the continuation of trial, Adams Jagaba, member of the House of Representatives representing Kachia Kagaruko constituency of Kaduna State and former Chairman, House Committee on Narcotics and Economic and Financial Crimes, denied ever receiving or keeping the alleged bribe money collected by Lawan from Femi Otedola, Chairman Zenon Oil and Gas.

While he was being led in evidence, Jagaba told the court that he only heard about his receipt of $620,000 from Lawan on the pages of newspaper, saying that he was practically asleep at the said hour he was alleged to have received the money from him.

“My Lord, that is not true, as I go to bed at 9p.m. and I live alone there. I never saw nor received such amount of money from the defendant.

“I became aware of this on the pages of Leadership Newspaper, I reserved my comment until I was invited by the police to its headquarters. I was confronted with a letter written by Otedola, I denied it and told him that I would love a situation where we would be there when the interrogation goes on.

“The police called the two of us and asked him if he could repeat some of the things he said, his remark was that I am not saying that Jagaba is involved in the bribe scandal, but based on the rights of his lawyer, if I can accept, that would help his case in the court.

“And at that point, the money would be considered as exhibit and not bribe, and I asked him two questions; did you give me the said bribe money of $620,000. Is the bribe money with me, he simply kept quiet,” the  witness said.

The matter was however adjourned to June 21 and 22, 2017 at the instance of the counsel due to a flight schedule Ozekhome had.

Lawan has been standing trial before Justice Angela Otaluka of an FCT High Court Lugbe over allegations that asked for the sum of $3,000,000 for himself from Otedola, Chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited to remove the name of his company from the report of the House ad-hoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime was conducting.