An Abuja High Court judge, Mudashiru Oniyangi, will on Friday rule on whether the court should proceed with the trial of Farouk Lawanand Boniface Emenalo over claims that they received a bribe of $620, 000 (N97 million) from businessman, Femi Otedola.
Mr. Oniyangi was billed to deliver the ruling on Thursday last week, but he was unable to sit because he was bereaved.
Messrs Lawan and Emenalo were Chairman and Secretary respectively of the defunct House of Representative Ad-Hoc Committee that investigated fuel subsidy payments.
The duo were accused of collecting the bribe from Mr. Otedola, in April, 2012 as inducement to remove his company’s name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, from the list of companies indicted by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime.
The charges filed against them on January 29 this year, include corruptly agreeing to obtain $3 million (N472 million) from Mr. Otedola in order to favour his company in the committee’s report.
The seven-count charge of conspiracy and corrupt enrichment also cites Mr. Lawan, for collecting $500, 000 (N78 million) from the billionaire businessman.
It further accused Mr. Emenalo, the Committee’s Secretary, of failing to report the offer of gratification to any officer of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, as well as collecting $120, 000 (N18 million) from Mr. Otedola.
The two accused persons, represented by Ricky Tarfa had argued that the ICPC had failed to establish a prima facie case against them to warrant them being put to trial.
Mr. Tarfa urged the court to discharge the defendants on the ground that the prosecutor failed to comply with Section 155 (1) (B) of the Criminal Procedure Code, CPC, saying, the charges lack legal precedent.
On the other hand, lawyer to the ICPC, Adegboyega Awomolo, urged the court to dismiss the application, describing it as an attempt to “waste the time of the court.”
Mr. Awomolo held that the Supreme Court had in many cases held that the purpose of seeking for leave of the court to prefer charges was to ensure that frivolous criminal charges were not filed and not to allow the accused persons to see the details of the charges against them.
He cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of the Federal Government V Adolphos Wabara to support his argument that the leave granted for the trial to commence was proper.