Farouk Lawan fails to open defence in alleged $620,000 fuel subsidy scam

Farouk Lawan

A former House of Representatives’ member, Farouk Lawan, on Thursday, failed to open his defence for the third time in his trial for alleged scam involving fuel subsidy funds.

Mr Lawan, former chairman of the House’s Ad-hoc Committee on Petroleum Subsidy Regime in 2012, was dragged before Justice Angela Otaluka of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Apo by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

He was a four-term member of the House of Representatives, who represented Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State between 1999 and 2015.

In the case marked FCT/HR/CR/76/13, Lawan was alleged to have demanded the sum of $3 million for himself from the chairman/chief executive officer of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola.

He was alleged to have collected $620,000 out of the amount with a view to removing Otedola’s companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the ad-hoc committee for allegedly abusing the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.

He pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Following the failure of his no-case submission, Lawan had told the court on January 28 that one of his witness, Babangida Abubakar, scheduled to testify in his favour that day, lost his brother.

On the next adjourned date, February 11, the former lawmaker through Benson Igbanoi, representing Mike Ozekhome, said he was applying for subpoena to compel a former member of the House and also Mr Abubakar to come to court to testify for him.

However, on the resumed sitting, Godwin Iyinbor, representing Mr Ozekhome, said the defence was yet to serve the subpoena on the two witnesses.

In view of this, he asked for an adjournment to enable them do the needful by mobilising the court bailiff to serve the subpoena on the witnesses.

Prosecuting counsel, Fatogun Eyitayo, representing Adegboyega Awomolo, opposed the application for adjournment.

Mr Eyitayo said that at the last adjourned date on February 11, the court indicated it would be the last adjournment to be granted the defendant.

Justice Otaluka, however, stated that the failure of the defence to serve the subpoena applied for was deliberate.

She further stated that the case was a criminal matter which ought to be held on a day-to-day basis in line with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (AJCA).

The case was adjourned until March 19 for defence.