Farouk Lawan And Boniface Emenalo Warned By The Judge Against Delay In The $620,000 Alleged Bribe

Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Gudu, Abuja, has cautioned a former Chairman of the House of Representatives ad hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime and its ex-Secretary, Farouk Lawan, and Boniface Emenalo against using delay tactics to frustrate their trial.

The judge issued the caution yesterday when the planned commencement of trial in the case against Lawan and Emenalo was stalled because  of the application for a stay of proceedings filed before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, by the accused persons.

Lawan and Emenalo were re-arraigned on a seven-count charge before Justice Banjoko on June 11.

They are accused of receiving bride and abusing their offices in relation to the allegation that they received $620, 000 as bribe from the Chairman,  Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr Femi Otedola.

They allegedly took the bribe ostensibly to exclude the names of Otedola’s companies – Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited and Synopsis Enterprises Limited – from the list of companies found to have “defrauded” the Federal Government of billions of naira.

The accused were earlier arraigned on the same charge before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi (formerly of the FCT High Court, Maitama) before his elevation to the Court of Appeal some months ago.

Justice Banjoko, after the proceedings of June 11, adjourned till July 7 for the commencement of the trial.

But yesterday, defence lawyer, Akinyemi Aremu, informed the court that the accused had appealed an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, to the Supreme Court.

They were also said to have applied to the Court of Appeal for a stay of proceedings before the trial court.

“The matter is slated for hearing today. However, we have filed a motion for a stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal, dated July 4. As settled in plethora of decisions, the proper and tidy thing to do is to stay proceedings pending a resolution of the motion at the Court of Appeal

“The nature of our application is preservatory: once steps are taken, it will destroy the res in the matter. If the court proceeds with the hearing of the matter, the application would have been rendered nugatory,” Aremu said.

He sought an adjournment.

The lead prosecution lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), did not oppose the request for an adjournment.

But he expressed disappointment that the accused persons’ application for a stay of proceedings, filed on July 4, was meant to frustrate the speedy hearing of the case.

 Awomolo, who said he would contest the accused persons’ application for stay of proceedings, asked the court for short adjournment on the ground that it was now the tradition of the court to accord criminal cases expeditious hearing.

Ruling, Justice Banjoko observed that “this is a classic case of delay tactics by the defendants’ counsel. I urge lawyers to rely on their competence rather than employ delay tactics in the defence of their cases.”

She adjourned to October 28 for parties to report development at the Court of Appeal and possible hearing of the case.

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