Dismisses no-case submission.
From Kayode Lawal, Abuja
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division on Tuesday dismissed the appeal filed by former Kano State House of Representatives member, Farouk Lawan seeking to terminate the $3 million bribery charges brought against him by the federal government.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision held that a prima facie case was well established against Lawan that warranted him to enter his defense in the three counts charges brought against him since 2013.
Delivering judgment in the appeal filed against the ruling of an Abuja High Court which held that Lawan had a case to answer, Justice Olabisi Ige held that the decision of the lower court was well founded.
Justice Ige said that contrary to the argument of Lawan, the prosecution evidence at the high court was not in anyway discredited, hence the rejection of his no-case submission.
The appellate court also held that the language of the trial judge, Justice Angela Otaluka which Lawan complained about did not place Lawan in any disadvantage position or was in anyway inimical to his trial.
Justice Ige who quoted copiously from the records of proceedings of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, especially the testimonies of the five witnesses called by the federal government, upheld the findings of Justice Otaluka that there were sufficient evidence linking Lawan to the offences.
“I am of the firm view and I have no doubt that the oral and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution sufficiently linked the appellant to the charges against him and to warrant his being called upon to make his defense.
“Prosecution evidence was not slanted in favour of the prosecution. In all, all the four issues raised in this appeal are hereby resolved against the appellant. His appeal, being un-meritorios is hereby dismissed”, he said.
Justice Otaluka had last year dismissed the no-case-submission filed by Lawan who was then Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Oil and Gas in his alleged $3 miillion dollars bribery trial.
After the prosecution closed its case after calling five witnesses, Lawan, through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome SAN, had filed a no-case submission on the grounds that the evidence and testimonies did not link Lawan to the crime.
According to Ozekhome, the prosecution’s witnesses gave conflicting statements about the amount Lawan was alleged to have collected from the fifth prosecution witness, Mr Femi Otedola, who offered the alleged bribe to Lawan.
In addition, Ozekhome argued that the video evidence showing how Lawan collected bribe from Otedola was blurry and does not necessarily prove that the content of the envelope Otedola gave to Lawan was money but could have been anything else.
Ozekhome further submitted that if the Department of State Services (DSS) had any evidence they would have arrested Lawan immediately at the scene of the bribery which they claimed they set up.
Responding, prosecution lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, urged the court to dismiss the no-case submission and ordered the defendant enter his defense because the prosecution had established sufficient evidence through video and oral testimonies which linked Lawan to the alleged offences.
In her ruling Justice Otaluka agreed with the submission of Awomolo and ordered Lawan to open his defense.
Miffed with this decision, Lawan had approached the appellate court to set aside the decision of Justice Otaluka and free him from the charges.