The trial of the former Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Mr. Farouk Lawan, for alleged $620,000 bribe, was stalled at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in Gudu, on Monday.
Lawan and the former secretary of the committee, Boniface Emenalo, are being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, for allegedly collecting $620,000 in the course of performing the committee’s duty in 2012.
They were accused of collecting the bribe in April 2012 from the Chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, Mr. Femi Otedola, in order to remove his companies’ names from the list of firms indicted by the committee.
The accused persons were re-arraigned before Justice Adebukola Banjoko on June 11, 2014, following the elevation of the former trial judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, to the Court of Appeal.
Justice Banjoko had, after the accused persons pleaded not guilty, fixed Monday for the commencement of trial.
But the matter was stalled on Monday after the accused persons’ counsel, Mr. Akinyemi Aremu, informed the judge of a pending application for stay of proceedings, which they had filed in connection with the case at the Court of Appeal.
Aremu sought an adjournment to enable him to argue the application for stay of proceedings.
The application arose from earlier decisions of the former trial judge and the Court of Appeal, who had both refused to quash the charges as requested by the accused persons.
Aremu said he had filed the application for stay of proceedings following their appeal to the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Court of Appeal refusing to reverse the decision of the lower court on quashing of the charges.
He urged the court to grant an adjournment to enable parties to report back to the court on the level of development made at the Court of Appeal.
“The nature of our application is preservatory, once steps are taken, it would destroy the matter,” Aremu said.
The prosecuting counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), confirmed that he had been served with the application for stay of proceedings, but maintained that the application was meant to frustrate the trial.
He did not, however, oppose the application for adjournment. He said he would oppose the application for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal.