Instead of Having His Day In Court, Farouk Lawan Hides Behind The Law To Avoid Prosecution
The suspended Chairman of the House Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime, Mallam Farouk Lawan, yesterday asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), to ignore threats from a lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, to prosecute him over alleged $620,000 bribe.
He queried Keyamo for allegedly leaving out a businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, who admitted offering the bribe through a sting operation.
He said if Keyamo is adamant, he would meet the Lagos lawyer in court.
The Police investigated the alleged $620,000 bribery, questioning Lawan, Otedola and the Clerk of the Committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo.
Last year, the government appointed a prosecutor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), to look at the report of police investigation and file charges as may be appropriate.
But Awomolo, last December, raised some issues which required additional investigation by the police.
The decision of the prosecutor is being awaited, but Keyamo has threatened to take legal steps to compel the AGF to prosecute Lawan.
In a reaction, the House member, who spoke through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), described Keyamo’s ultimatum to the AGF as empty.
He said Keyamo cannot question the authority of the AGF on who to prosecute or not.
He said: “The ultimatum of Keyamo both to the police and the AGF is vacuous, empty, vainglorious, grandstanding and it constitutes legal hara-kiri. He cannot even succeed with order of mandamus to compel the AGF to prosecute any person. The case of Gani Fawehinmi v. Akilu was cited out of context. At that time, I was the deputy of chambers at Gani’s law firm.
“Under Section 174 sub-section 1 of the 1999 Constitution, the AGF has the sole prerogative and responsibility to be questioned by none, being lord and master unto himself in this regard.
“The AGF has the power to “ institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria other than a court martial in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly or to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person and to continue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceeding instituted or undertaking by him or any other authority or person.”
“Under Section 174 sub-section 2, “the powers conferred upon the AGF under sub-section 1 of this section may be exercised by him or through officers of his department.”
“It is, therefore, clear that the AGF is the only one who can decide whether or not and when, if at all and where he desires and against whom and in what circumstances and for which offence he can prosecute a person in Nigeria . No one can force him to do that.
“The best a lawyer can do is to go to court and ask for an order of mandamus, which I know no court will grant because of the clear provision of Section 174 of the Constitution.”
Lawan said if Keyamo carried out his threat, he would ask the court to join him in the suit.
The counsel added: “The AGF in defending himself is, if this empty and bombastic threat is carried, to question his bonafide, his locus standi and invoke Section 174 of the institution. In any proceeding emanating from this, Farouk Lawan is entitled to request the court to join him as the target of the attack.
“And going by the Supreme Court decision in Green v. Green, Farouk Lawan will definitely be joined.
“Another reason why Keyamo can never be allowed to prosecute Lawan is that the AGF and Lawan can accuse him of being a persecutor and not a honest prosecutor because he definitely left out Mr. Femi Otedola, who personally announced to the world that he gave a bribe. Keyamo’s statement did not say he was joining Otedola as a co-accused person. I thought as a lawyer of 32 years at the Bar that bribery is a criminal offence under Nigerian law.
“Did Keyamo not read that the AGF actually outsourced this brief to a private legal practitioner last year as was reported in Nigerian newspapers and the distinguished SAN raised over 40 questions which must be answered by the Police before any person could reasonably prosecute Farouk Lawan based on the same evidence which Keyamo is relying on.
“The AGF could say it is his prerogative on who to give a case to. That is why both AGF and Lawan could accuse Keyamo of an attention to persecute. The AGF is one of the finest and best legal minds in this country; he won’t allow anyone to threaten him or his office.”