The trial of Forouk Lawal, accused of demanding and receiving bribe, could not go ahead Wednesday as scheduled because the prosecution counsel did not produced the second witness.
The case adjourned from yesterday, Tuesday, to today, Wednesday for the prosecution to continue with its witness.
However, at the resumed hearing, counsel to the Independent, Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), pleaded for adjournment because of the inability to present the second prosecuting witness as earlier promise.
Olajide Olaleye, appearing for the prosecution told the court that although the matter was adjourned till today for the prosecution to present its second witness, all efforts to get “our witness ready for today”, proved unsuccessful.
It was based on this development that the prosecution applied for the matter to be adjourned till the May 18, 2016.
Olalekan Ojo, appearing with others for the defendant said they did not have any objection to this request.
Justice Angela Otakula of a High Court sitting in Lugbe, Abuja, the trial Judge for the case of bribery between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Farouk M. Lawan, granting the application for adjournment appealed to the prosecution to make sure their witness is ready when the trial resumes on the May 18, 2016, to avoid unnecessary adjournments.
Lawal, who was then Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, is facing an amended 3 count charge of soliciting and receiving bribe.
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 list of companies indicted in the 2012 fuel subsidy scam.
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.
Tuesday, Boniface Emenalo, then Secretary to the Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, who formerly was charged alongside Lawal, appeared as prosecution witness.
Raher than indict Lawal, he sided with the accused during a cross examination by the defendants’ lawyers.
Felding questions from Mike Ozekhome and others, the accused lawyers, the witness said he collected the $100,000 from Michael Otedola as exhibit to prove the businessman’s move to bribe members of the committee.
He said on Otedela’s invitations, he met with the businesman on Sunday, April 22, 2012 and on Tuesday April 24, 2012 at his home in Aso Drive, Maitama, Abija.
But he confirmed that it was during the second meeting that Otedola gave gave him the $100,000 which he said he handed over to Lawan as exhibit.