Farouk Lawan FG reopens ex-lawmaker's alleged bribery trial on Tuesday

They were for arraigned on February 2, 2013, before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on a seven-count charge.

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The bribery trial involving a former Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan will be reopened on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, The Nation .

Lawan and the committee's ex-Secretary, Boniface Emenalo are facing trial for allegedly obtaining $620,000 bribe money from chairman of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola.

They were for arraigned on February 2, 2013, before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on a seven-count charge.

In the charge filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Commission (ICPC), the $620,000 bribe they collected was so that they could exclude the names of Otedola’s companies, Zenon Petroleum and Gas as well as Synopsis Enterprises Limited, from the list of companies found to have allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of billions of naira in the petroleum subsidy scam, which their committee was created to investigate.

According to The Nation, before the prosecution could proceed to trial, Lawan and Emenalo appealed the decision of a High Court, to the effect that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against them

On May 12, 2014 the Court of Appeal, Abuja dismissed their appeal on the ground that was without merit. But before proceedings could resume again at the trial court, Justice Oniyangi was elevated to the Court of Appeal, prompting the court’s Chief Judge to reassign the case to another judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Gudu division of the High Court of the FCT.

Lawan and Emenalo later compelled Justice Banjoko to withdraw from the case when they wrote a petition against her, alleging that she was likely to be bias in handling the case.

Lawan had in a petition addressed to the court’s Chief Judge,  sought the  re-assignment of the case to another judge on the ground  that Justice Banjoko was close to Otedola, who was the accuser and a proposed prosecution witness in the case.

Shortly after the petition, Lawan’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) filed a motion and requested Justice Banjoko to disqualify herself from further handling the case on the same grounds of likelihood of bias.

Justice Banjoko subsequently withdrew from the case on November 2014 and returned the case file to court’s Chief Judge.

The Nation learnt Monday that the case has since been reassigned to Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the FCT in Lugbe, Abuja, before who the case is to start afresh today.

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