Farouk Lawan Ex-chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee that investigated the fuel subsidy regime in 2012, Farouk Lawan, told the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo, Abuja, on Tuesday, that his first defence witness’ brother in his ongoing bribery case was killed by Lassa fever in Kano on Sunday.
Lawan gave this as the reason for his inability to open his defence in the six-year-old bribery case instituted against him since 2012.
The Kano-born politician, who was present in court, is being prosecuted for allegedly accepting $500,000 as a bribe for the removal of billionaire businessman, Mr Femi Otedola’s company’s name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, from the list of the firms indicted by the committee for alleged fraud in the subsidy scheme.
In the ruling on October 17, 2019, Justice Angela Otaluka dismissed the no-case submission Lawan filed after the prosecution closed its case with five witnesses, that include Otedola.
Contrary to Lawan’s contention in his no-case submission, the prosecution made a prima facie case against him which he had to defend.
The court directed him to open his defence on November 11, 2019. The trial was adjourned till Tuesday, for any undisclosed reason
But Mr Benson Igbanoi, who stood in for Lawan’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said despite being ready for the trial, his sole witness who was meant to testify at the hearing could not attend the proceedings because he was dead.
Igbanoi said they were informed that the brother of the witness was killed by Lassa fever on Sunday.
We are very much ready to open our defence today, he stated on Tuesday.
“My lord in the circumstance, we are unable to go on to open our defence today.
Igbanoi said his team had written a letter to the court and a copy of which was served on the prosecution stating the defence team’s “predicament” and suggesting an adjournment of the case till February 11.
Chief Adegboyega Awomolo The lead prosecuting counsel, confirmed that he received the letter dated January 27, 2020 (Monday) from Ozekhome’s law firm.
He said he had to “reluctantly concede to another adjournment since the reason for it involved the loss of a human being.”
But he urged the court to direct the defendant “to keep to February 11 so that he does not come that day and say he is asking for another adjournment of the case.”
Justice Otaluka granted the request and the case was adjourned to February 11.