From FRED ITUA, Abuja
Following the decision of an Abuja Federal High Court last Friday to order the remand in prison custody, of a member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, the Kuje Prison where he was taken to has become a Mecca of sorts with different political groups, especially some members of the House of Representatives, flocking the jail house in solidarity with their colleague.
Although it was reported that 24 members of the House from Kano State had visited the prison the previous day, lawmakers from other states and some politicians of northern extraction were seen queuing around the Kuje Prison yesterday. Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi had last Friday remanded the former chairman of the House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Farouk Lawan and the Secretary of the committee, Boniface Emenalo in prison custody till Friday, February 8, when their bail application is expected to be determined by the court.
The duo is being tried for contravening the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) Act by allegedly receiving a bribe of $620,000 from Lagos business mogul, Femi Otedola, to delete his company’s name, Zenon Petroleum and Gas, from the list of companies indicted in the 2011 fuel subsidy scam. Otedola had also filed a suit against Lawan and Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in a N250 billion case of harassment and intimidation.
When Daily Sun visited the prison yesterday at about 12noon that the House was still in plenary, some federal lawmakers were seen sitting under a tent waiting for their turn to go into the facility to see their colleague. The tent, manned by men of the intelligence unit of the Nigeria Prisons Service, is a screening point for relations and friends who want to see inmates. Although the officers on duty refused to grant access to the correspondent nor allow him to peruse the visitors’ register, Daily Sun reliably gathered that the register contained names of some lawmakers who had visited Lawan in custody.
One of the lawmakers, Zakari Mohammed, who declined to make comments said he was at the prison to see Mr. Lawan. Asked if he was representing the House leadership, he said, “no, I am here in my private capacity. I am here on behalf of my family and myself. I am not representing the leadership of the House.” Although the leadership of the House of Representatives has not made any official statement regarding the incarceration of Farouk, Daily Sun gathered that some principal officers of the House might pay a secret solidarity visit to Kuje Prison in support of Farouk Lawan.
Daily Sun further gathered that the leadership of the House is treading carefully in order to avoid bashing from Nigerians who might accuse them of supporting a corrupt colleague. They’re also wary of an eventual revolt of some members of northern extraction who are likely to accuse them of abandoning their colleague in the face of trial.
It was also gathered that efforts are in top gear by the House leadership to strike a deal with the executive arm who many believe are paying the House back for the many troubles they’ve caused President Goodluck Jonathan’s government since the leadership of the House came on board in 2011 under some controversial circumstances.