BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — The Court of Appeal in Abuja, yesterday, declined to quash the criminal charge preferred against the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel subsidy probe, Farouk Lawan, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
In its ruling, yesterday, the appellate court, held that there was enough prima-facie to warrant the trial of both Farouk and the erstwhile Secretary of the probe committee, Boniface Emenalo.
Consequently, the two lawmakers were ordered to return to the lower court and defend themselves over the allegation that they demanded and collected $3 million bribe to pervert the course of an investigation that was instituted by the House of Representatives.
The duo were specifically accused of demanding and collecting 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 Ad-hoc committee on monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.
ICPC alleged that they demanded an aggregate sum of $3 million, with a view to ensuring that the company escaped prosecution even though the probe committee had ab-initio found it culpable in the fuel subsidy fraud.
Farouk was said to have pocketed $620,000 which was part payment for the illegal deal.
The anti-graft agency further alleged that Emenalo, while being a public officer, an Assistant Director and Clerk of the Committee on Education of the House of Representives, sometime in April 2012, while acting as the Secretary of the Committee, was offered gratification by Otedola, but failed to report the offer to any officer of the ICPC or any police officer.
The offence, according to ICPC is contrary to Sections 17 (1) (a); 8(1) (a) (b) (ii), and 23 (i) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Sections 8 (1) 17 (1) and 23(3) of the same Act.
Meantime, the appellate court has ordered an accelerated hearing of the charge against them