From IKENNA EMEWU, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday ordered that the former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe, Hon Farouk Lawan and the clerk of the committee, Boniface Emenalo be remanded in Kuje prisons till February 8 for a decision on their bail applications.
This followed their arraignment in court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on seven criminal charges, including the violation of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000. Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi had, on Thursday, granted leave to the ICPC to prosecute the two on criminal charges under Section 185(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Prosecution Counsel Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) had told the court that investigations have been concluded and the list of witnesses filed and that he is ready to go on with the trial. He prayed the court to place in custody the accused persons pending the trial date as according to him “we were served the motion for bail this morning, if it is convenient for you to take the application we will take the application on points of law.”
Defence counsel, Ricky Tarfa (SAN) who led Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in an oral application for bail said “we apply that the accused persons be admitted to bail pending the trial. We are also asking for bail on the most liberal terms. We adopt our written address as the accused persons have been on administrative bail and they have never violated any of the terms of bail, the accused have been reporting to the police on 37 occasions, he has not travelled out more than four times since the commencement of investigation.”
Awomolo in response said: “We oppose the application for bail, he is charged with offences that are punishable with seven years in prison. There is the likelihood of his committing the same offence while on bail. They did not give an undertaking that when they are allowed to return to the National Assembly that they won’t obtain bribe.
“The right to liberty is not absolute as guaranteed by the constitution under Section 35, the accused persons were part and parcel of the enactment of the ICPC Act in year 2000. They know the intention of the law and still got involved in it.” The court adjourned to February 8 for ruling on the bail application and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in the custody of Kuje prisons.