Farouk Lawan, a former member of the House of Representatives, was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja on Tuesday for receiving a N500,000 bribe while serving as the chairman of the House’s ad-hoc committee investigating the fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.
Mr Laman was found guilty of all three counts of corruption and bribery by trial judge Angela Otaluka.
In her ruling, Ms Otaluka stated that Mr Lawan demanded N3 million in 2012 and received $500,000 from Femi Otedola, a Nigerian billionaire oil entrepreneur.
The judge ruled that he took the bribe in order to have Mr Otedola’s oil company, Zenon Oil and Gas, removed off the list of companies indicted for fuel subsidy fraud.
‘Mr Integrity, cap banker’
Mr Lawan was seen in a video tape concealing wads of dollar cash he seized from Mr Otedola in his cap, according to PREMIUM TIMES.
After cramming the foreign money bills into his cap, he replaced it on his head.
The video footage, according to the prosecution, were recorded inside Mr Otedola’s Abuja home during a sting operation coordinated with the State Security Service (SSS).
Mr Lawan was allegedly apprehended while negotiating and accepting the bribe with Mr Otedola, according to the court.
Parts of the video were presented as evidence and played in open court for the judge and others who were present at the time of the trial to see.
The discovery of the video footage had shocked many Nigerians, who had dubbed him Mr Integrity because of his anti-corruption stance as a seasoned legislator.
Mr Lawan, a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who represented the Shanono/Bagwai constituency in Kano state at the time, had been re-elected four times and was planning to run for governor in 2015.
His political career and reputation were shattered as a result of the incident.
Delivering the judgement that lasted over three hours on Tuesday, the judge held that the prosecution led by Adegboyega Awomolo, proved his case beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Lawan demanded and received a bribe.
“The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant (Mr Lawan) demanded and received the sum of $500,000 from Mr Femi Otedola in order to exonerate his oil firm from an investigation by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe.
“The ingredients of Count 1, 2 and 3, have been established by the prosecution.
“The defendant, being a public officer in 2013, obtained the sum of $500,000 from Mr Otedola for his personal use. His visit to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was an afterthought.
“I hereby find the defendant guilty of counts 1, 2 and 3 of the charge,” the judge held.
She then sentenced Mr Lawan to seven years in prison for counts 1 and 2, each and to five years’ imprisonment for Count 3.
“I therefore order and sentence the defendant to a term of seven years imprisonment for corruptly asking for a bribe of three million dollars and receiving $500,000 as part of the bribe. This is for counts 1 and two.
“On Count 3, the defendant is sentenced to five years imprisonment without an option of fine,” the court declared.
Not done, the judge ordered Mr Lawan to make restitution of the $500,000 bribe he took from Mr Otedola to the Nigerian government.
“Restitution order is hereby made. The defendant is to return the sum of 500,000 dollars he received from Mr Otedola and remit the same to the federal government. This is the judgement of the Court,” Ms Otaluka said.