After several months of delays, criminal charges will be filed against the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Education, Farouk Lawan, the prosecutor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), has informed THISDAY.
Lawan, who was also the Chairman of the House
Ad Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of the Fuel Subsidy Scheme, had been
accused by the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Femi Otedola,
of demanding and accepting a bribe of $620,000 to alter the report of
the committee, in which Zenon had been indicted.
this newspaper on the phone, Awomolo said that the delay in filing the
charges was caused by the need to do a thorough investigation and block
all loopholes to make sure that the prosecution presents a water tight
case in court.
According to him, the police have since carried
out further investigations and came up with additional materials that
could assist the prosecutor in the case.
He explained that Lawan
would have his day in court but said that the state could not be pushed
into rushing to court only to have the case dismissed for lack of
Awomolo also reacted to the request by
Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, to prosecute the case, saying: “The
Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, under the constitution
and the law carries with it both national and international
responsibilities with respect to prosecution of offenders.
appears there is a grand plan by some people to secure for the accused
person cheap judgment of acquittal, because once this frivolous private
prosecution fails, the accused will be discharged and acquitted and be
“Then they will turn round to blame the AGF who has been diligent in handling the case.
the sudden interest? First, he (Keyamo) does not have any record of
investigation by the police. Besides, there is no such law as Section
129(1)(a) of the ICPC Act. Keyamo wants to frustrate the prosecution.
He is making a deliberate effort to frustrate the prosecution of Lawan.
“He is also making attempts to frustrate justice and blackmail the AGF. There is no basis for what he is doing.
“The law has moved away from Keyamo’s standpoint. The police have done more work and by next week, we will go to court.
AGF appreciates the public interest generated by this matter and
assures Nigerians that in the next few days, the prosecution will begin.
It will be done diligently and professionally. The delay is in the
interest of justice.
“For the AGF as a leader of the bar and a
leader of cabinet, it is important for him to act most diligently,
observing the rule of law and all international protocols relating to
“He is not to be seen as a persecutor but a
prosecutor. A persecutor goes to the press to blackmail, intimidate and
bring to disrepute the suspect who is presumed to be innocent under our
“Whereas a prosecutor must ensure that there is proper
investigation with verifiable facts and evidence on the record before
proceeding to court.
“The AGF will not react to the noise of the
market in order to bring a Nigerian to court for crimes because a
criminal allegation has various dimensions: the accused person, his life
and personality, his family and relation and associates, the interest
of the general public which is represented by law, and lastly, the
integrity of the administration of the criminal justice.
“All these factors must be considered before bringing an accused person to court.”
insisted that AGF would not play to the gallery, adding that a criminal
investigation is not a frivolous thing. “It is also not an opportunity
to play to the gallery,” he stressed.
Following the expiration of
the ultimatum to the police to charge Lawan, Keyamo had last Wednesday
prepared a draft charge against Lawan.
The draft charge, which
was sent to the AGF, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), was accompanied by a
letter requesting the AGF to indicate whether he was prepared to
prosecute or not.
He had attached to the criminal charge proof of
evidence, a recording of a telephone conversation between Lawan and
Otedola contained in a memory card wherein Lawan had allegedly solicited
or asked for gratification to doctor his report, and appealed to
Otedola to keep it secret