CACOL hails Supreme Court judgment affirming Farouk Lawan's jail term

Farouk Lawan

Farouk Lawan

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Supreme Court judgment affirming the jail term of ex-lawmaker, Farouk Lawan.

In a release signed by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran he noted that “The Supreme Court, on Friday, upheld the judgment that convicted and sentenced the former Chairman of the then House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe, Mr. Farouk Lawan, to five years in prison for bribery.

The apex court, in an unanimous decision by a five-member panel, dismissed as lacking in merit, an appeal the former lawmaker, who has been in prison custody since 2021, filed to challenge his conviction.

Lawan had, among other things, contended that he was not allowed to make a plea of allocutus (plea for leniency) by the trial court before it jailed him.

However, in its lead judgment that was prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro but read on Friday by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, the Supreme Court said it was “crystal clear that failure of the trial court to call for allocution, did not vitiate the sentence passed on the Appellant.”

Trial Justice Angela Otaluka, found the four-term lawmaker for Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State, guilty of demanding an aggregate sum of $3 million from Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, Chief Femi Otedola, to give his company a clean bill of health in the fuel subsidy probe the House of Reps initiated on 2012.

The trial court held that the Defendant acted in breach of 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 committed an offence punishable under section 8 (1) 17 (1) and 23(3) of the same Act.

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The court said it was satisfied that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, successfully established a criminal case against the Defendant, even as it convicted him on all the three-count charges that was preferred against him.

Not satisfied, Lawan approached the appellate court where his jail term was reduced from seven to five years. Lawan is at the apex court urging the court to set aside the judgments of the lower court. Reading the lead judgment, Justice Tijani Abubakar upheld the decision of the appeal court and dismissed the appeal.

“We are elated to hear the Supreme Court verdict on this case, it has shown that the Judiciary can still be trusted as far as fighting corruption in the country is concerned. Although, it is one of the fundamental rights of the ex- lawmaker Lawan to utilise all the available options of appeal and be granted fair hearing, we are happy to hear of the outcome of the case.

“The judiciary from the trial court, through the appeal to the Supreme Court has proven to Nigerians that it cannot be bought over and that justice is not for sale. The judgment has brought to fore the fact that no one is bigger than the law or the widely publicized principle of equality before the law,” CACOL said.

“We hope other public office holders will learn from the outcome of this case and try as much as possible to be above board while in office. We also hope the good work performed by the anti-graft agencies in prosecuting the ex-lawmaker will not be truncated by granting him Presidential Amnesty thereby exonerating him of wrongdoing.”

“We at CACOL therefore commend the judiciary for a job well done while still calling for judicial reforms that would facilitate speedy dispensation of justice especially as it concerned other high profile corruption cases that dotted various courts in the country,” CACOL added.

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