The Federal Capital Territory High Court in Apo, Abuja has convicted a former House of Representatives member who represented Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State, Farouk Lawan, of a 7-year jail term for receiving a $500,000 bribe while in office.
Mr Farouk was arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, for allegedly collecting the said bribe from Nigerian business mogul, Femi Otedola.
Mr Lawan was at the time the House Chairman of the ad-hoc committee investigating the fraud around the oil subsidy regime in 2012.
The committee found Zenon Petroleum and Gas Company, an oil company belonging to Mr Otedola, culpable of defrauding the Federal Government via spurious subsidy claims.
Mr Lawan allegedly demanded $3 million bribe from Mr Otedola to remove his firms from the list of companies indicted the fraud.
Mr Otedola allegedly videoed the lawmaker while receiving the said bribe.
Mr Lawan’s Defense Counsel, Mike Ozekhome, had earlier in his submission told the court that the ICPC had failed to properly establish the defendant’s intent to commit the offense he was charged with.
He argued that the prosecution’s witnesses gave conflicting statements about the amount Lawan was alleged to have collected.
Mr Ozekhome also said the video evidence was blurry and does not necessarily prove that the content of the envelope Otedola gave to Mr Lawan was money but could have been anything else.
He said that if the Department of State Services had any evidence they would have arrested Lawan immediately at the scene of the bribery which they claimed they set up.
Adegboyega Awomolo, the prosecution counsel, however objecting to the application told the court that despite the defense’s failure to accept the video evidence it doesn’t negate the fact that the evidence exists and is true.
Mr Adegboyega said that he has been able to prove that Lawan took money to perform a public duty that he was supposed to do.
In her judgment delivered on Tuesday, the trial judge, Angela Otaluka, found Mr Lawan guilty of count one, two, and three bothering on corruptly asking for and obtaining bribe from Mr Otedola.
For count one and two, the court sentenced Mr Lawan to seven years while for count three he was sentenced to five years.
According to the judge, the sentences are to run concurrently.