A former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Farouk Lawan, who was jailed for five years for taking bribes, lost his appeal at the Supreme Court on Friday.
The former chairman of the fuel subsidy probe committee had challenged his conviction, arguing that he was not given a chance to plead for mercy before the trial court sentenced him.
But the Supreme Court, in a judgement written by Justice Inyang Okoro and delivered by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, said the appeal had no merit and that the trial court’s sentence was valid, even though it did not call for allocution.
The Supreme Court reminded the public that Mr. Lawan was found guilty by a High Court in Abuja on June 22, 2021, of soliciting $ 3million from Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd boss, Chief Femi Otedola, to clear his company of any wrongdoing in the 2012 fuel subsidy scandal.
The High Court, presided by Justice Angela Otaluka, said Mr. Lawan violated the Corrupt practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000, and sentenced him to seven years on two counts and five years on one count, to run concurrently.
The High Court also said the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, proved its case against Mr. Lawan beyond reasonable doubt on all the three counts.
Mr. Lawan appealed the High Court’s decision on six grounds, claiming that the ICPC did not present enough evidence to convict him.
He asked the Court of Appeal to set him free of the bribery charges.
But the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on February 24, 2022, upheld the High Court’s judgement, although it reduced Mr. Lawan’s jail term from seven to five years, after it cleared him of two counts.
The Court of Appeal, headed by its President, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, said the Prosecution failed to show that Mr. Lawan asked for and agreed to take $3m from Otedola.
However, the Court of Appeal agreed with the Prosecution that Mr. Lawan collected $500, 000 from Otedola.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the first two counts, but affirmed the last count, which carries a maximum of five years imprisonment.