By JIDE AJANI
Fresh facts emerged yesterday on why the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, took over the prosecution of Hon. Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo, the erstwhile Chairman and Secretary of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Pprobe, respectively.
Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, that, contrary to the belief in the public sphere that pressure was brought on the AGF, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, to prosecute the duo, last Friday’s prosecutorial action was consequent upon a conference held in the AGF’s Office with some senior legal practitioners a fortnight ago.
In the Office of the AGF that day were Adoke and Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, along with other lawyers.
The meeting, it was learnt, was informed by a similar case of bribery which Awomolo had successfully prosecuted on behalf of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
The judgement, in Sunday Vanguard’s possession, was delivered on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, in the High Court of Justice, Edo State of Nigeria in the Benin Judicial Division holden at Benin City before His Lordship: The Hon. Justice E. F. Ikponmwen.
The case was between The Federal Republic of Nigeria, the complainant, and one Temple Nwankwoala, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, the accused.
The case number B/ICPC/2/06, according to very dependable sources at both the Office of the AGF and the ICPC in Abuja, is similar to the case brought against Farouk and Emenalo – it was about a sting operation which was conclusive and which made it easy for Awomolo to secure judgment. The accused demanded N1,000,000 but received N500,000.00 for the purpose of compromising investigation; the demand was made on October 18, 2006.
In the three count charge proffered against Nwankwoala, he was acquitted on counts two and three but was sent to jail for seven years on count one..
It was the details of this case and the authorities cited and which enabled Awomolo succeed that the AGF discussed at the meeting.
Sunday Vanguard was told that it was after a careful strategy was put in place that the office set out to prosecute, using Awomolo.
But a source at ICPC lamented why the AGF did not collaborate with the commission fully on the Farouk matter.
Last Friday when the duo of Farouk and Emenalo were arraigned, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi did not grant both men bail.
The charge alleged that the embattled men demanded and collected bribe from the Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, Femi Otedola, as an inducement to remove the name of his company from the report of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime.
They were said to have demanded an aggregate sum of $3million, with a view to ensure that Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd escaped prosecution even though the Committee had ab-initio found it culpable in fuel subsidy fraud.
The AGF, through Awomolo, insisted that the offence they committed was contrary to section 17 (1) (a), section 8(1) (a) (b) (ii), and section 23 (i) of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under section 8 (1) 17 (1) and 23(3) of the same Act.
Besides, the prosecuting commission alleged that Emenalo, while being a public officer, an Assistant Director and Clerk of the Committee on Education of the House of Reps, sometime in April 2012, while acting as the Secretary of the Ad-Hoc Committee, was offered gratification by Otedola but failed to report the offer to any officer of the ICPC or any police officer.
Whereas both accused persons were charged together in the first count of the charge, however, count 2, 3 and 4 were specifically preferred against Farouk while count 5, 6 and 7 were entered against Emenalo.
Meanwhile, shortly after they took turns and pleaded innocence to the crime, counsel to the ICPC, Awomolo, implored the court to remand them in prison custody pending their trial.