Supreme Court Affirms Five-Year Sentence for Farouk Lawan in Landmark Bribery Case

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Supreme Court Affirms Five-Year Sentence for Farouk Lawan in Landmark Bribery Case

Abuja, January 26, 2024 - The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and five-year prison sentence for Mr. Farouk Lawan, the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy probe. In a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, the apex court dismissed Lawan's appeal, filed after being in prison custody since 2021.

Lawan argued that he was denied the opportunity to make a plea of allocutus (plea for leniency) before the trial court sentenced him. However, the Supreme Court, in a lead judgment prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro and delivered by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, declared that the failure to call for allocution did not invalidate the sentence.

The initial judgment, handed down by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on June 22, 2021, sentenced Lawan to seven years in prison. Trial Justice Angela Otaluka found him guilty of demanding $3 million from Zenon Petroleum's Chairman, Chief Femi Otedola, to provide his company a favorable outcome in the 2012 fuel subsidy probe initiated by the House of Representatives.

The trial court ruled that Lawan breached several sections of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, leading to his conviction on all three counts. While Lawan was initially sentenced to 7 years on counts 1 and 2, he received a 5-year term on count 3, with the sentences running concurrently.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, Lawan lodged an appeal, contending that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) failed to establish a prima facie criminal case against him. The Court of Appeal, in its judgment on February 24, 2022, affirmed the high court's verdict but reduced Lawan's sentence from 7 to 5 years. The three-man panel, led by Court of Appeal President Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, acquitted him of two charges, citing insufficient evidence, while upholding the conviction on the remaining count for receiving $500,000 from the oil mogul.

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