Farouk Lawan, the chairman of the then-ad-hoc investigating committee, was sentenced to seven years in prison for accepting a bribe from billionaire oil magnate Femi Otedola, the owner of one of the companies under investigation, nine years after the scandal rocked the House of Representatives investigation into fuel subsidy fraud.
Lawan was found guilty of all three counts of bribery by an FCT High Court in Apo presided over by Justice Angela Otaluka on Tuesday. The case had gone back and forth between the Supreme Court and the FCT High Court since it began in 2012.
According to reliable sources, the former legislator has been transferred to Kuje Prisons on Abuja’s outskirts.
A source at the prison who does not want to be named confirmed that Lawan was taken there shortly after he was convicted by the court.
“Yes, he was brought here (Kuje correctional facility) straight from the courtroom. From today, he has started serving his jail term and will continue until he finishes his sentence unless he appeals his case and wins the appeal at any point before he will be released,” he said.
While Lawan was convicted for his role in the bribery scandal, charges were however not filed against the giver of the alleged bribe, Otedola, a situation explained by lawyers as justified by law.
Otedola had himself said during the trial that the bribe money he gave to Lawan was given to him by the Department of State Services (DSS) as part of a sting operation.
The former lawmaker was prosecuted on charges of receiving a bribe of $500,000 from Otedola.
The money was part of the $3milllion Lawan requested to have the businessman’s firms removed from the list of companies indicted for fuel subsidy fraud.
While delivering judgment yesterday, the judge held that Lawan’s conduct had elements of corruption.
She held that from the pool of evidence before the court, the prosecuting lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), had established a case of corrupt practices against the defendant in count one of the charge that borders on corruptly requesting a bribe of $3million.
“It is the duty of the defendant to produce materials upon which he places his defence,” she said.
She also said Lawan failed to call one Honourable Ribadu or any member of the house committee to buttress his claim of collecting the money to implicate Otedola, insisting that they were “vital witness” needed to prove his case.
“Count one of the charges is not based on suspicion but on credible evidence. The defendant (Lawan) corruptly asked for $3million and received a $500,000 bribe in two tranches from Femi Otedola,” the judge said.
The judge also dismissed Lawan’s claim that he received the $500,000 to obtain proof of moves by Otedola to induce him and members of his committee.
The judge thereafter sentenced the four-term former federal lawmaker from Kano State to seven years for counts one and two while he was sentenced to five years for count three. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Lawan was also asked to return the $500,000 collected from Otedola to the federal government.