The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s, prosecuting counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, successfully argued that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja remand Hon. Farouk Lawan and Hon. Boniface Emenalo to prison custody. Here is how he did it.
In his argument against the bail application, he stated, “We are opposing the application for bail and urge your lordship to refuse it. The accused persons are charged with an offence punishable by 2 to 7 years imprisonment and therefore not ordinarily bailable.
“An application for bail is an application in equity which requires my Lord to exercise your discretion judicially and judiciously. The principles that guide the court in granting bail have been well enunciated in the case of Bamaiyi Vs State, 2001, the nature and gravity of the offence and the likelihood of the accused committing another offence while on bail.
“The offence by which the accused persons are standing trial is the case of corruption by a public officer at the highest level, particularly in the legislative arm. The accused person, in the affidavit did not give an undertaking that if they go back to the National Assembly, they will not be members of another committee and that they will not demand or obtain bribe in the discharge of their official duty.
“Your Lordship needs to be assured that what prompted them to demand $3million will also prompt them to demand $10million.The accused persons were part of the making of the ICPC Act, they knew the intention of the lawmakers and deliberately violated the law, on that ground alone, I urge my lord to deny them bail,” Awomolo added.
Before Awomolo’s motion to have the accused persons remanded in prison custody, both of them had pleaded not guilty. Their team of lawyers, Chief Ricky Tarfa (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) also asked the court to grant them bail on self-recognition on very liberal terms.
Tarfa had moved their bail application which was dated 1 February and filed according to section 35, 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution as amended, and section 340 and 341(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, urging the court to take cognizance of the fact that the 1st accused, Farouk, had in the course of investigation into the matter, reported to the Police on 37 different occasions, noting that the duo never violated the administrative bail that was given to them by the Police.
“The 1st accused have had cause to travel out more than four times since the commencement of the investigation, the 2nd accused have had cause to travel to the USA more than two times since then. My Lord, the 1st accused has been a full time member of the Reps since 1999; he is also a member of the ECOWAS parliament and has been a member for the last twelve years.
He is one of the founding members of the said ECOWAS parliament and he is presently chairing the committee on Administration of Finance.”
He also cited the cases of Owudalu vs State, 2008, AFWLR, and Ebute & Ors vs State, 1994, NWLR as precedents, arguing that not only did the accused persons failed to abscond when they had the opportunities, he said they had voluntarily submitted themselves to the Police for investigation.
“The accused persons are willing and ready to face their trial. My Lord should also take cognizance of their status and position in the society and grant them bail in self-recognition. The constitution says they should be considered innocent until proven guilty,” he insisted.
The confidence being exuded by the accused vanished with the following words of the presiding judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi:
“The accused persons are hereby remanded in prison custody.”
In his short ruling, he said he would need time to consider the application, saying the accused persons should be remanded in Prison till February 8 when the case was subsequently adjourned to.
Suddenly, the haughty smirk that was hitherto on the face of the erstwhile Chairman and Secretary of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on fuel subsidy probe, Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo vanished. They had not expected that they would be made to spend up to a week at the Kuje Prisons.