The trial of former House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawal over bribery and corruptly obtaining money from Femi Otedola, was again stalled, Tuesday.
When the case was called for definite hearing, the prosecutuon counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, (SAN), said that some of the prosecution witnesses were not available.
He therefore moved application for adjournment.
He also brought an application that the court should permit him to pay the fees for the certified documents which are to be presented as exhibits and which the court had ruled at the last sitting.
He said the House of Representatives refused the payment on the ground that the House is not a revenue generating body
“Some of the witnesses to be called are not in court my Lord
“For the continuation of trial you asked us to pay the certified fees for the documents to be tendered. House of Representatives refusef the payment. I have approached Accountant General of the Federation, he said he does not issue receipt to individuals. I have written to the Attorney General for guidance. If my Lord will allow me pay for the documents to the cashier of the judicial.
“Based on these I am bringing the two applications, one for adjournment and second to allow me pay to the cashier of the judiciary, and tell me how much to pay”
However, the defence counsel, Sekop Zumka, said based on the applications “we want to express surprise that the House of Representatives said it cannot accept money on documents it has certified. But we have no objection to the request to the extensiom of time but to second that the House of Representatives cannot accept payment for documents. The basis we object is upon which you gave your judgment that says the payment should be made to the appropriate authority.
” Since the High Court is not the issuing authority and has not certified and not in custody of the documents it follows that it cannot issue receipt for the documents based on section 104, which says every public office in custody and having certified the documents , should accept the payment. No government agency cannot accept payment”, he posited
However, the Judge, Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the FCT in Lugbe, said the trial should not be weighed down with technicalities.
She observed that it is the third party that has to pay and not if the document is in form which falls in this case within section 146 (1) of the consistution. She noted as far as the document is substantial in its form that it is certified by the public office that it is from them, can be accepted without payment.
She therefore sdjourned the case for definite hearing on March 7 and 8, 2016.
The case marked: Charge No: FCT/HC/CR/76/2013, Lawan was alleged to have in April, 2012 obtained the sum of $500, 000, in bribes from Otedola to remove his company Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd from companies indicted in the 2012 fuel subsidy fraud.
Lawan was alleged to have “asked for the sum of $3,000,000” and “corruptly obtained the sum of $500,000” bribe to exclude Zeno Petroleum and Gas as well as Synopsis Enterprises Limited from the list companies found to have defrauded the Federal Government billion of naira on the petroleum subsidy probe.
Lawan and Emenalo were initially arraigned on seve counts of corruptly accepting sums of money up to $620,000 from business mogul and Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Mr. Femi Otedola, in the course of performing the committee’s duty in 2012.
Both men were accused of collecting the money in April 2012 from Otedola in order to remove Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime.
But the amended charges now comprising three counts instead of the previous seven now indicate that Lawan corruptly asked for $3m from Otedola and did corruptly collected $500,000 from the business man.