NIGERIA: Prosecute Lawan, Otedola now, Falana tells Jonathan

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Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to order the immediate trial of the former Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Adhoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Mr. Farouk Lawan, and billionaire businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola,  for bribery.

Lawan allegedly received about $620,000 out of $3m bribe from Otedola, to delete the businessman’s companies from the list of firms indicted by the committee.

Secretary to the committee, Boniface Emeluno, was also said to have received part of the bribe.

Falana, in a statement on Sunday, rejected the duo’s excuse for their involvement in the scandal, insisting that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute them.

He said, “Having undertaken to make the fight against corruption part of its transformation agenda the Goodluck Jonathan Administration should direct the anti-graft agencies to bring to book all those who have been indicted in the various probes on the fuel subsidy. Let no one deceive Nigerians by saying that there is no evidence to try criminal suspects who have made confessional statements.”

Falana wondered why Lawan and Otedola had not been charged to court when a few months after the bribery scandal broke, two other members of the House, Herman Hembe and Chris Azubogu  were promptly arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for a similar allegation.

Hembe and Azuogu were last November 26, re-arraigned at an Abuja High Court before Justice Peter Kekemeke for illegal collection of about $4,095 (less than N5m) from the Nigerian Security Exchange Commission sometimes in October 2012.

Falana said, “Since what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, Messrs Lawan and  Emenulo should  be charged to court  without any further delay. Otedola should also be arraigned in court for bribing the two legislators to delist his indicted companies.”

Attributing Nigeria’s poor rating on global corruption scale to “lackadaisical manner of handling cases of corruption involving influential members of the ruling class”, Falana expressed worry why the Federal Government had not acted upon the police report on the bribery scandal.

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