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Lawan, ex-lawmaker, to spend 5 years in jail over $500k bribe, Nigeria’s Supreme Court rules



Ex-member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan

Nigeria’s Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal by a former lawmaker and member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Farouk Lawan, over the five-year jail term by the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.

The apex court passed the judgement on Friday, January 26, upholding Mr. Lawan’s sentence in the judgement of the appeal court which reduced the sentence from seven to five years.

The trial judge, Angela Otaluka, of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Abuja had slammed seven years on Lawan on all three counts of corruption and bribery.

Justice Otaluka convicted and sentenced him over a $500,000 bribe scandal while he served as the chairman of the House of Representatives’ ad-hoc committee investigating fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.

She held that Lawan actually received $500,000 from Femi Otedola in 2012 being part of the demanded of $3 million to remove his oil company, Zenon Oil and Gas, from the list of firms indicted for fuel subsidy fraud.

Unknown to him, he was caught pants down in a sting operation conducted by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).

Farouk Lawan is a Nigerian politician and former lawmaker representing Bagwai/Shanono Federal Constituency of Kano State.

He was recently sentenced to five years in prison by the Supreme Court for receiving a bribe of $500,000 from businessman Femi Otedola.

The bribe was given by Lawan during a legislative probe into the fuel subsidy regime in 2012 by his committee.

The fuel subsidy regime in Nigeria was a policy that kept the price of petroleum products below the market rate by compensating the importers and marketers of the products.

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The government claimed that the subsidy was meant to protect the poor and the economy from the volatility of the international oil market.

However, the subsidy was also criticized for being costly, inefficient, corrupt, and environmentally harmful.

The subsidy was partially removed in 2012, leading to mass protests and a partial reversal of the policy.

In 2021, the Petroleum Industry Act was passed to deregulate the market and end the subsidy, but the implementation was delayed until June 2023, when the new president, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, announced the removal of the subsidy in his inaugural speech.

This sparked panic buying, price hikes, and public discontent among Nigerians who had grown accustomed to cheap fuel.

The conviction of Lawan was seen as a landmark case for anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria.

Not satisfied with the judgment, however, he approached the appellate court where his jail term was reduced to five years.

He proceeded to the apex court where he urged the court to set aside the judgments of the lower courts.

While reading the lead judgment, Justice Tijani Abubakar upheld the decision of the appeal court and dismissed the appeal as lacking in merit.

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