Farouk Lawan Took $500,000 Bribe from Otedola - Witness
Mr David Igbodo, a prosecution witness in the trial of former Chairman of the House of Representatives' Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Farouk Lawan, has told an Abuja High Court in Lugbe, Abuja, that his investigations revealed that the case was that of demand and receipt.
Igbodo, who is the Commissioner of Police Legal Services and Investigating Police Officer (IPO) in the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Special Investigation Unit said Lawan was caught on video receiving 500,000 USD from businessman Femi Otedola.
Following the case of alleged bribery against Lawan by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Lawan is standing trial before Justice Angela Otaluka on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on obtaining money from Otedola in order to remove his company's name (Zenon Oil and Gas Limited) from the committee’s report.
ICPC is prosecuting Lawan for allegedly collecting $500,000 out of 3million USD bribe he allegedly requested from Otedola in exchange for the striking out of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the list of firms indicted by the house committee for alleged abuse of the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
When the trial resumed yesterday the prosecutor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN tendered a letter dated April 19, 2012, sent to the committee from Forte Oil. However, the defence counsel, Benson Igbanoi, objected to the admissibility of the letter saying that being a public document, it should have been certified.
Awomolo had tendered the letter alongside Exhibit PW2L which was a letter made by the defendant on July 16, 2012 and forwarded to the police to investigate the said document dated April 19, 2012 giving reason why the case of Otedola of Zenon and Forte Oil was reviewed by the House.
Igbanoi argued that the document was a letter addressed to the Chairman, House Adhoc Committee on Subsidy Regime in his official capacity and therefore a public document. He said it therefore required certification to make it admissible as required by Sections 102 and 104 of the Evidence Act.
He urged the judge not to admit the document.
However, the trial judge Justice Angela Otaluka, in her ruling rejected the defence's argument saying that the document needed not be certified.
The judge ruled that the document was not obtained from a public officer and therefore there was no need to invoke sections 102 and 104 of the Evidence Act as argued by the defence.
The judge held: "It is my strong view and opinion that the document dated April 19, 2012 referred to in the letter dated July 16, 2012 is admissible."
The document was admitted in evidence as Exhibit PW2P.
The witness said the matter investigated by the police was demand and receipt of a total amount of 600,000 USD.
He said the defendant collected 500,000 USD while Boniface Emenalo also demanded and collected 100,000 USD as Secretary of the Adhoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime.
The witness added that the defendant did not deny collecting the money and that the defendant said it was for the purpose of using it against Otedola to prove that he attempted to bribe the committee.
The witness restated that it was a case of demanding and receipt, according to findings during his investigation.
After the prosecution closed his examination of the witness, the defence counsel sought an adjournment to enable his principal, Chief Mike Ozhekhome, SAN to cross examine the witness.
Ozekhome, he said, was before another high court in Ado Ekiti and has made the necessary communication to Awomolo.
Responding, Awomolo said: "Chief Ozekhome told me he won't be available today because he has a matter in Ado Ekiti. If Ozekhome is not available today, he would be available tomorrow.
"Two days had been allocated to the matter; today and tomorrow. We are not opposing an application for adjournment till tomorrow".
Justice Otaluka therefore granted the application for adjournment. Trial continues Wednesday..