11th June, 2014
Former Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Farouk Lawan and its former secretary, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, were on Wednesday re-arraigned before an Abuja High Court on a seven-count criminal charge where they were alleged to have received the sum $620,000 as bribe from the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola.
They allegedly collected the bribe ostensibly to exclude the names of Otedola’s companies – Zenon Petroleum & Gas and Synopsis Enterprises Limited – from the list of companies found to have allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of billions of naira through fuel subsidy scam.
They were earlier arraigned on the same charge before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi before the judge was elevated to the Court of Appeal some months ago.
Oniyangi’s elevation led to the transfer of the case to Justice Adebukola Banjoko before whom the accused persons were re-arraigned for a fresh plea. They both pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime.
The prosecutor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, informed the court that the business of the day was for the accused persons to enter their pleas to the charge afresh as there were no pending application in the matter.
This was confirmed by the accused persons’ lawyers led by Mr. O. Jolaawo.
After the accused persons pleaded not not guilty, their lawyer applied to the court to allow them continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them by the former trial judge.
Justice Banjoko insisted on seeing the three men, who stood surety for the accused persons before the earlier bail was granted, to know if they were willing to remain sureties and the matter had to be stood down on that note to allow the sureties, who were not in court, to physically appear before the judge.
Following the arrival of the three sureties and their confirmation to remain sureties for the accused persons, the judge ordered Lawan and Emenalo to remain on the earlier bail granted by Justice Oniyangi and adjourned till 7 July for continuation of trial.