By Ismail Auwal
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reduced the jail term of a former lawmaker, Farouk Lawal from seven to five years.
Lawan was convicted of receiving $500,000 bribe during a legislative probe into the fuel subsidy regime in 2012.
The court on Thursday discharged and acquitted the former lawmaker on two of the offences he was earlier jailed for by the lower trial court in June last year.
The court affirmed his conviction on the only remaining offence which the lower court punished with five years jail term.
The first two counts were dismissed by a three-member panel led by the court’s president, Monica Dongban-Mensem.
The panel ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that Lawan demanded and agreed to accept $300 million from billionaire oil mogul, Femi Otedola, to exonerate the businessman’s company from the list of firms indicted for fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.
However, the Court of Appeal’s panel affirmed the decision of the lower court that Lawan, indeed, accepted $500,000 bribe from Otedola. The lower court had jailed Lawan five years for this offence.
The Court of Appeal affirmed both the conviction and the sentence passed by the lower court on the offence, but discharged and acquitted him regarding the two other counts of demanding and agreeing to accept $3million from Mr Otedola to clear his company.
A High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, had earlier sentenced the lawmaker to imprisonment after being on trial for nine years.
Lawan was convicted of corruption in 2012 after corruptly seeking $3 million and subsequently accepting $500,000 from Otedola to exonerate the businessman’s company from a fuel subsidy fraud indictment.
Lawan was sentenced to seven years in jail on each of the first two crimes, and five years on the third. She determined that the sentences should run concurrently, suggesting that the offender would be imprisoned for seven years.
Lawan, however, filed an appeal against the ruling because he was displeased with it.
He raised six challenges with the judgment, but only one was found in his favor, earning him an acquittal on two of the three counts.